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House of Dolls 

by 

Ka-tzetnik 135633 

Translated from the Hebrew by Moshe M. Kohn 




19 -t-l 55 

SIMON AND SCHUSTER 
New York 



[E. D'M. A.] 



ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 

INCLUDING THE RIGHT OF REPRODUCTION 
IN WHOLE OR IN PART IN ANY FORM 
COPYRIGHT, , 1055, BY NINA DE-NUR 
PUBLISHED BY SIMON AND SCHUSTER, INC. 
ROCKEFELLER CENTER, 630 FIFTH AVENUE 
NEW YORK 2, N. Y. 

SECOND PRINTING 

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOG CARD NUMBER: 54-12363 
MANUFACTURED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 
BY H. WOLFF BOOK MFG. CO., INC., NEW YORK 



TO NIKE 

without whom this book 
would not have been written 



Chapter 1 



"Daniella," he called softly to her, "why didn't you come for a 
warm snack last night? We waited for you." 

The voice came from just behind her. She knew immediately 
it was Vevke standing there. No one else pronounces the T* in 
her name so hard yet with such fatherly tenderness. 

She went on ripping the seam of the striped trousers. 

"Thanks, Vevke," she answered without turning to face him, 
Tbut I'm not hungry. Really." 

<c You won't make us any poorer," he continued whispering over 
her shoulder. "An eighth mouth is no strain on a pot that feeds 
seven. Don't be stubborn." 

Schultze stood on the threshold of the rag room, gripping his 
cane point up, like a Prussian officer saluting with his sword. Vev- 
ke stooped quickly to scoop up a pile of rags, and carried it out 
with a swing on his powerful, upraised forearms. The women fol- 
lowed him with mute, furtive side glances as he swung into the 
cutting room and deposited his load on one of the high cutting 
tables. 

There are moments when the pile of worn clothing in the center 
of the rag room bestirs itself suddenly like a volcano and sends a 
pervasive fear throughout the large room. The women, huddled 
at their benches around the clothes heap, are suddenly still. Their 
hands manipulate the knives like jpriestesses readying a ram for 
offer to a hungry god. The heap ftpn^s in fearful wrath a wrath, 
it seems, that will never be qmtodfed. But for the most part, the 

I 



heap Is still as only a heap of ragged old clothes can be still- 
while the mouths of the women around it pour out a steady 
stream of prattle. 

Over the rag room is the machine room, where hundreds of sew- 
ing machines whir on without stop. Some of the operators, anxious 
to fill their quotas, work so intently that the treadles of their 
machines clatter on the floor, and below, in the rag room, the 
ceiling rumbles like muffled thunderclaps rolling across the sky. 
The din never lets up. The people have become used to it, like 
inhabitants of a fishing village to the roar of the surf. 

Daniella draws a garment from the clothes heap, men's rain- 
coats are easiest to rip. A long seam runs down the back of this 
type of coat, and the knife flows right through the seam unhin- 
deredleaving time to daydream. The work is easy. The pockets 
aren't attached with outside seams, and there is no fear that the 
sharp cobblers' knife will slip and cut the material. 

But the trouble is, you're not allowed to sample through the 
pile; every one has to take what comes, off the top. It's all a matter 
of luck. Everything here is a matter of luck: every so often a gold 
coin is found hidden, of all places, in the collar of a small chil- 
dren's coat 

No one knows from where the large vans bring the piles of 
clothing to the shoe factory warehouses day after day. No one 
knows where the people are who wore these piles of clothes, and 
no one pursues this thought to its logical conclusion: Where were 
these people taken to naked, unclothed? But everyone knows that 
near Breslau there is a vast camp where they do nothing but sift 
these very clothes for hidden valuables that might be sewn into 
them. 

There, at Camp Breslau, the clothes are sorted: The newer and 
better ones are shipped to Germany, the shabbier ones are bought 
by Himmler's Labor Commissioner for the shoe factory recently 
opened in the ghetto. Here they are ripped, and uppers are cut 
from them for the wooden shoes the Gestapo buys by the hun- 
dreds of thousands for the Gestapo only knows what purpose. 

Now even if Daniella were to pick through the clothes heap, 
and select the best garment to work on, none of the women would 



dare say a word. They all know that this blond miss is looked 
after by Vevke, technical supervisor o the shoe factory. But Dan- 
iella wouldn't do it; she can't Were she merely to reach into the 
heap to pick one of the easier pieces, all eyes would immediately 
be upon her, sullenly watching. She can't stand the stares of these 
women. All day long they scan what is going on all around them. 
They cut their fingers on the sharp cobblers' knives, but this 
doesn't teach them to stop spying on one another. Each is afraid 
her neighbor might uncover a treasure among the seams. Their 
eyes are tense, nervous; their hearts pound; and their bird-step 
glances skip aboutleft and right, from hands to hands. 

No one knows if there is anything hidden in the seams of the 
garment some hands have just pulled from the heap. All draw 
from the same clothes heap. Every jacket has a collar and all the 
trousers have the same hidden seams. Everyone knows the gar- 
ments have been carefully searched at Camp Breslau, Neverthe- 
less, the eyes never relax. They might catch a glimpse of a gold 
coin flashing out of a ripped seam into a stranger's hand; or detect 
some hands unrolling a long, green strip of paper an American 
"noodle" from a hanger loop. After all, the examiners at Gamp 
Breslau are only human. 

To the right is the cutting room; to the left, the cobblers*. The 
foremen and section heads scramble frantically about. The work 
rages on. Schultze, the chief German supervisor, slithers along 
the walls of the workrooms with his cane. Vevke moves from 
workbench to workbench, ostensibly bringing to each bench 
fresh material to be worked. But Vevke knows his workers. He 
knows near whom to pause so lie will be on hand for a quick res- 
cue job to save a shoe from ruination by a new-sprung cobbler, 
and the "cobbler" from deportation to Auschwitz; for to Schultze, 
a spoiled shoe is "willful sabotage." 

. . . he's a strange one, Vevke, thinks Daniella. For him there 
are still seven, **An eighth mouth is no strain on a pot that feeds 
seven . . /' Since the disaster with Tedek, she hasn't been able to 
show her face in Vevke*s hovel. And shell never go there again. 
Actually, Vevke should hate her; his whole family should hate her. 
Tedek was the favorite son, the family darling. They all used to 

3 



glory in Mm so: Tedek. Doesn't she know it! But was it her fault? 
They know only one thing, though: Tedek had left the ghetto for 
her sake! But more than once had Tedek gone from the ghetto to 
the Aryan side! Ferber always used Tedek to help him on his un- 
derground missions. More than once. . . . And he had never 
been caught. Actually, the most ingenious ghetto plans, no matter 
how carefully worked out, always prove to be horribly foolish and 
naive. Ghetto plans! Tedek had been obsessed with just one prob- 
lem: How to get through the Beskidian Woods to the Slovakian 
border. As if he had nothing else to worry about. He already had 
an elaborate plan, thought out to the last detail, how he would 
take her to Palestine. But no sooner did he step out of the ghetto 
than he was caught. Ghetto plans! If not for her, maybe Tedek 
would never even have taken this disastrous step. Tedek had been 
in love with her. It was all clear, now. Everyone had known it but 
she. She had never shown any sign of such feelings toward him; it 
never even occurred to her. Why, she hadn't even agreed to his 
plan of escape because she had felt he was doing it for her, to save 
her. Still, how could she show her face to his family though 
there's no way of knowing whether he was sent to Auschwitz, or 
to a labor camp. But what's the difference? Nobody knows what 
"Auschwitz" is, just as nobody knows what 'labor camp" is. 
People vanish into both without a trace, and that's the last that is 
heard of them. 
Photographs- 
All sorts of photographs. So many photographs. Big ones and 
small ones drop from the ripped pockets. They lie scattered all 
over the floor; people walk on them. At first, when a photograph 
would drop out of a pocket, they'd try to read the inscription on 
the back Now they don't even bother. Rivkah, tie cleaning 
woman, sweeps them in bunches onto the trash heap. No one 
pays attention to the photographs any more: Schulfze is watching; 
besides, the faces in the photographs no longer mean anything. 
One is used to having lying about underfoot: brides and grooms 
on their bridal day, tots smiling from their cribs, boyish heads 
darting their sharp, engaging glances at you. 
People had taken along these photos as relics of their own lives. 

4 



The inscriptions on the backs of the photographs aren't read 
any more. You know without looking you won't be able to under- 
stand them, anyway. Some are inscribed in Dutch and others in 
French; some in Russian and others in German; some in Flemish, 
others in Czech; some in Greek and others in Yiddish; some in 
Italian, others in Hebrew. Who here knows so many languages! 

"... a pot that feeds seven . . * These had been Vevke's 
very words the night she arrived here from Cracow, right after 
he had rescued her from the Jew-Militia. Tedek was still around, 
then. She didn't know him as yet. Menashe, too, was still around. 
The Five Oaksall the sons of Vevke the cobbler were still to- 
gether then. He had told her then "that feeds seven" and these 
are still his very words. For him there are still seven . . . 

Tedefc must have been out of his mind. All knew him to be 
cautious, realistic, and he knew very well it was the matter of the 
woods that had cost his younger brother Menashe his life. And 
what difference did it really make, the Slavic Woods or the 
Beskidian? Long before Menashe's death they began finding Jew- 
ish corpses that had been tossed from the Slavic Woods onto the 
crossroads, notes nailed to their naked flesh: SHOT, BUT NOT BY 

GEBMANS POLISH PARTISANS. 

Tedek knew this very well, but he never stopped arguing, *Tm 
not waiting for the Germans to kill every Jew in the ghetto!" What 
hadn't she done to keep him from carrying out his plan! She 
pleaded with him and begged him, though never bringing up 
the name of his brother Menashe. She didn't dare. But Tedek's 
mind was made up; not even his father or Ms mother could 
change it. "It's no use,** he declared. W I wont stay in the ghetto I* 
Vevke listened, swallowed deep, said nothing. 

Then, when Tedek brought home the false report, "Menash 
has joined the partisans/* Vevke swallowed that same deep swal- 
low. To this day it's hard to tell whether he really had been fooled, 
or whether he knew what actually had happened. His wife, Gittel, 
stood facing the stove, her tears dropping softly into the pots she 
kept shifting aimlessly from place to place. Vevke stood just be- 
hind her and spoke to her over her shoulder: 

^Gittel, my crown, youTI see, Menashe will soon be bade in a 

5 



Russian tank as high as Hellers house. You'll see, Gittele . . ." 

He got these words out, and rushed from the shack as if he 
were being chased, 

On the high tables in the cutting room the strips of cloth 
brought in from the rag room are piled color by color: navy blue, 
official students' uniform; black Alpaca, worn by Orthodox Jews 
and accountants; blue serge, for evening wear; brown herring- 
bone cheviot, for a stroll on a brisk, clear winter day. Neatly 
assorted, color by color, they lie on top of each other. On each 
pile the cutter places his pattern, shoves the blade of his razor- 
sharp knife deep into the cloth, draws it along the outline of the 
pattern as a pencil is drawn along a ruler's edge and cuts 
"mates." The "mates" are taken for sewing to the machine room 
and then returned to the cobblers' room. 

When the Labor Commissioner first decided to open the shoe 
shop in the ghetto, there developed a terrific crush on the 
Judenrat* Everyone wanted to get into the shoe shop. People 
scraped the last family heirlooms out of their hiding places and 
thrust them into the hands of the Judenrat people. For what 
greater security was there for a Jew than to have a labor card 
identifying him as a member of the Labor Force of none other 
than the Sonder Beauftragter the very Labor Commissioner who 
was engaged in providing Jews for the labor camps! Why, it's as 
clear as day he won't send his own workers to a labor camp! 

But it soon became evident that there were no cobblers in the 
ghetto the Judenrat had early turned the poor artisans over to 
the Gestapo as ransom for the rich. Could they have imagined 
that the time would come when a cobbler would be needed in the 
ghetto, and for the life of them they wouldn't be able to produce 
one? For with "intellectuals" and "screwturners" ** alone they 
could hardly make shoes for the Gestapo. So it is easy to see how 
relieved the Judenrat crowd were to be able to produce Vevke 

* Judenrat: "Jew-CoimciF Genaan-appointed autonomous Jewish Com- 
munity Council. 

** Screwturners: wealthy merchants who bought labor cards from the 
Judenrat and showed up at the shop only when the Germans came into the 
ghetto to collect Jews for deportation, 

6 



the Lithuanian, who was known from prewar days as a master 
cobbler. And Vevke really saved the day. He was appointed tech- 
nical supervisor o the shoe shop and quicHy set about -making 
shoemakers out of ghetto Jews. 

Row after row of long, low tables stand in the cobblers* room. 
On the low benches lining the tables sit eminent doctors, famous 
lawyers, rabbis, all trying urgently to look to Schultze like old- 
time cobblers. 

Sometimes it seems that here is a large kindergarten., except 
that on the low benches sit grown-up Jews, and instead of toys 
their pallid hands hold wooden soles which they rim with nails. 

At noon, when Schultze disappears to the Comrades* Club for 
lunch, Vevke sits down at a cobblers* table and gets to work. No 
sooner does Vevke feel the cobblers" hammer in Ms hand than the 
old gleam is back in his eyes. He is refreshed, full of color again, 
like one soaking in the warmth and love of home after long, 
lonely wandering. Vevke isn't cut out to be a boss. He's fed up 
with the day-long aimless circling among the tables. It saps his 
energy, he begins to feel listless; his feet drag, his eyes droop. 
All day long they shout, "Supervisor!" "Supervisor!'* First from 
this table, then from that; now from this room, then from the 
other. The whole thing disgusts him. He can't stand to hear it any 
more, and he can no longer stand being responsible for shoes 
made by doctors and lawyers. 

Now, gripping the hammer, he feels all his limbs come to life 
again. The sinews of his right arm begin to bulge, his chest ex- 
pands, a surge of power fills his whole being. Ah, it's wonderful 
to feel this way again! Feeling nimble, he scoops a handful of 
nails into his mouth, like a hungry glutton, and an urge awakens 
within him to burst into song. 

Strange. Even when you're strapped to the torture rack in the 
Gestapo dungeon, and the tools of death let up cracking your 
bones for a moment, the marrow in them suddenly gets an over- 
powering urge to sing out in joy though the black uniforms still 
stand over you, their faces grinning satanically at you. You're 
still strapped to the racknotwithstanding that, in spite of it, 

7 



you have a terrific urge to grin with them. Your bones* first 
moment of relief impels you to it. The marrow in them suddenly 
wants to sing. 

Gittel would surely say now, "Seventy? More like seven!" In 
the ghetto, in the shoe shop of the Germans, and he wants to sing! 
So he remains silent. He stifles the song stirring in his sinews and 
listens with one ear as Silverstein, the famous pediatrician, re- 
peats the political news for Vevke the supervisor who has deigned 
to sit at their table. The other cobblers do not look up from their 
shoes; they stay huddled over their work like hens crowding 
around the grain just tossed at them. 

<c The l>ox* reports that Roosevelt has spoken . . ." 

"Roosevelt has spoken . . ." The cobblers pass the word along 
from man to man, table to table, without looking up from their 
shoes. 

"Roosevelt has spoken . . ." 

Nobody asks what he said, what tidings he brings, just as drug 
addicts do not ask themselves what it is that blunts their senses; 
what causes them to tremble so at the very mention of the white 
potion. 

Enough to know "Roosevelt has spoken . . ," 

Bergson, the cantor of the "atheists' * synagogue, who before 
the war lived in the same house as Vevke which, in fact, ex- 
plains how he came to be working in the shoe shop charts out 
on the reverse side of a wooden sole the strategic situation in 
Perekop, in the Crimea, which the Germans are about to capture. 

"A pox and a plague on them for all their power!" Vevke spits 
his curse out with a bunch of nails. 

At the cobblers* table, Vevke forgets a while the hurt buried 
deep in his heart. The cobblers* hammer in his hand affects him 
like a magic wand. He sheds his here-and-now personality and 
becomes the old Vevke: no longer the "supervisor** circling among 
the tables, responsible to the Germans for the shoes manufactured 
by his ^cobblers/* 

But this lasts only as long as Schultze is away from the shoe 
shop. 

When he gets back, Schultze first turns to the rag room. He 

8 



slinks stealthily in, so one one will see him. His skull is a bloated 
white globe, without a trace of hair from nape to eyes. A wrinkled 
hint of a face peers from his bloated skull as if it had been at- 
tached in an afterthought. Altogether, his head looks like a 
magnified embryo head. His mouth is never idle. There is always 
a lighted cigar pegged between his blue, tight lips. Smoke rises 
ceaselessly from the cigar, as if some special instinct were con- 
stantly pressing him, prodding him: "Show them you are Schultze! 
Show them you're not an embryo! Fact is, you smoke cigars/* 

Schultze has a game leg; which is why he moves about on three. 
And it is the third leg his canethat is the most dangerous. The 
tip of the cane has a rubber cap, which only Schultze knows how 
to wield so it will be a long time before his victim regains his 
breath. No one knows yet whether the secret of the cane's evil 
power is in the rubber tip or in Schultze's ability to aim his third 
leg. However that may be, Schultze slinks into the rag room, con- 
vinced that no one sees him. And actually, it is possible that no 
one would notice him, if the smell of his burning cigar didn't 
carry such a long way. 

He sneaks first into the rag room. He has already sent two seam 
rippers to Auschwitz. One had found a Russian gold <e porker" 
under the knee patch of a pair of overalls. Her neighbor insisted 
she was entitled to half: She had held the overalls first. She cer- 
tainly will not give up her share of the coin! The argument 
reached Schultze's ears, and right after work they were both 
turned over to the Gestapo never to return. The next day, 
Schultze issued an order that all seam rippers were to be thor- 
oughly searched before leaving work. But they outsmarted him, 
and if anyone did find anything in those days, she quickly swal- 
lowed it. From that day on, the seam rippers have been keeping 
a dose watch on each other's mouths. 

II 

The photograph lay on the floor at her feet. It had fallen from 
the breast pocket of a jacket together with a small phylactery bag. 
The bag was of purple velvet, embroidered with, a silver mono- 



gram inside a Star of David. Daniella glided the cobblers' knife 
along the seam of a checked winter coat, like a violinist tuning a 
string not really playing, but a deaf man only sees the motions; 
she isn't really working, but Schultze watching from afar won't 
know the difference. She couldn't tear her eyes from the photo, 
A boy and a girl. Just like she and Moni in the photo set in the 
locket on her heart. The eyes of the two children looked up at 
her from the floor, giving her no rest. As if they were Moni's eyes 
asking, "Dam, why did you go away?" 

Her past wreathed itself about the photograph on the floor like 
a frame and looked up at her as out of some strange, hazy ex- 
istence. Her own life now lay at the foot of the heap of old jackets 
and trousers: her own life, her own yesterday. Yet she couldn't 
make it out. It was so alien to this rag room; so remote from the 
high cutting tables and from the low tables in the cobblers' room! 
The people in the rooms suddenly seemed like creatures enclosed 
in a colored crystal ball: to all appearances alive, astir, but she 
can't reach through to them* She is very far from them, beyond 
their sphere, unable to approach them, mingle with themyet 
here she is among them. Her life lies at the foot of the heap of old 
clothes, wisps of recollection floating to the top of her conscious- 
ness like Schultze's cigar smoke rising into the room. You can't 
see the smoke, but you sense its terrifying Germanic smell. 

Two existences. Severed and sundered. No connection or bridge 
between them. Which is reality and which nightmare? This clothes 
heap certainly is no mirage: she sees it with her eyes, feels it with 
her hands! Can she be living these two separate lives simultane- 
ously? Two existences, one alongside the other? "War is brew- 
ing ... Ifs a bad time for excursions . . " Daddy waving 
a white kerchief ... the train pulling out ... -how does 
Schultze's head suddenly loom here in the doorway? How did she 
herself get here? Where is the bridge between these two exist- 
ences? What are the blue checks on this winter coat in her hands? 
What is the meaning of this knife gleam she's now pressing into 
a seam? . . . 

The purple of the phylactery bag splashes against her eyes. 
Everything fills with purple. A terrific urge fills her to pick up 

10 



this little bag. But Rivkah sweeps such trifles onto the trash heap: 
you can't cut any * mates" from such a small bag. Her diary is also 
bound in the same purple velvet. On the bronze plaque is in- 
scribed: To My Gifted Daniella. ... A diagonal scar now creases 
these words, as if the German bullet had intended to erase them. 
The bullet would have plowed into her back if she hadn't taken 
the diary along in her knapsack, and she would have been left 
lying in Yablova marketplace as all the other Jews were left lying 
there; as all her first-term classmates were left lying there. 

In the cutting room, the section heads bustle from table to 
table. The pressure is on. The "screwturners" turned out full force 
in the factory today: an Aktion must be brewing. The assorted 
strips of smooth cloth lie in neat piles on the floor like Yablova 
marketplace when the Germans ordered the Jews to fall flat 
on their faces. All at once, the marketplace was paved with human 
backs, like neat piles of cloth: now the marketplace was full, sud- 
denly it was empty at once full and empty. Not the way it was 
on the road to Cracow; then, she wasn't able to catch even a 
glimpse of the road. Only when the German bombers swooped 
down, and all swarmed to the shelter of the ditches along the 
road, only then did a stark, endless road emerge, stripped of its 
human casing. Then she saw: a horse carcass, legs outstretched 
the people had trampled it to death; a broken bicycle lying on its 
side, wheels facing skyward; baby buggies groaning under pots 
and bedding a bare, dead, endless road. 

. . . can these be the clothes of the Yablova Jews? Reesha 
Meyerchik wore a coat just like this on the excursion. If not for 
the bronze plaque on her diary they might be ripping her own 
raincoat in this rag room. But how did the clothes of the Yablova 
Jews get here? It all happened three years ago! Mommy had 
urged her, "Dani, take along your raincoat. It wfll come in handy 
during the trip. ..." If she hadn't taken it along she wouldn't 
be able to smuggle Abram the trader's cloth wrapped around her 
waist, and she would have starved to death. There's no question 
that an Aktion is scheduled in the ghetto: Why else did Berman 
the gold dealer come scampering to the workshop? The cutters 
work their hearts out. They are on their feet at their tables all 

11 



day. Vevke, too, plods about on his feet all day. If not for Vevke, 
she could never have dreamed of working in the shoe shop. She's 
a lucky one, always was. How else explain that she's still alive? 

A day of letters, written and unwritten. A letter drops from 
almost every pocket today. As if the people had all been members 
of the same transport; * or as if they had been assured that they 
would be permitted to write home as soon as they were brought 
to their destination. Rivkah sweeps the letters onto the trash heap. 
The envelopes still pulse with the life of the fingers that had 
sealed them. 

A strange fear now hovers over the rag room. Everyone feels 
it Suddenly, the jacket linings begin to exude human body heat; 
hands fill out the sleeves; necks sprout from all collars; stomachs 
and legs materialize in all the trousers. Live humans fill the 
clothes. 

A numb silence suddenly settles among the seam rippers, the 
knife blades move as of their own accord. Eyes are lowered to the 
seam, and the strange garment reflects back at them their own 
doom. 

On one of the windows in the rag room, over a broken pane, a 
prayer shawl is spread, fixed with nails to the window frame, to 
keep out the snow. The wind humps itself into the shawl, and it 
looks like a Jew wrapped in a prayer shawl straining to jump 
through the window. 

As the women sit in stunned silence, the thunder rumbles down 
from the machine room with mounting intensity. As if lava has 
begun seething within the clothes heap and is about to burst out 
and swamp everything, everyone. Schultze stands near the door- 
way and with the rubber tip of his cane shoves a letter onto the 
trash heap. 

^Zarar he screeches at Rivkah (to Schultze all Jewish women 
are **Sara") "Let's have it clean!" He raises his cane, sets the 
rubber tip against the center of Rivkah's brow, pauses momen- 
tarily, peers into the woman's eyes, and suddenly, as if remem- 
bering something, resumes his violent screeching: "Clean! Clean!" 

And he goes hobbling out of the rag room. 

* Transport: deportation- to death camp. 

12 



A day of letters. Some written in ink; others, in pencil. Either 
way, no one can read them. Maybe they are written in Dutch, 
maybe in Greek, The truth is, you're afraid to read them, let alone 
pocket them. It may be forbidden. Who knows what Schultze 
forbids and what he allows! He has sent people to Auschwitz for 
pettier crimes. "Now don't forget? Daniella y to send home a post- 
card every day. . . .* Papa had never looked so worried as that 
time in the railroad station. She hadn't understood, then; she had 
other things on her mind. Later, in the Cracow ghetto, they 
frightened her with their admonishment: "God forbid that a Jew 
should use the German mailF Everything connected with the 
swastika reeked of death. "The war won't last forever* Better 
wait; better be careful . . /* She could still have written home, 
then. Kongressia ghetto hadn't yet been so hermetically sealed. 
Later she got the report from Zalke the smuggler. God! How 
casually Zalke stated: Nothing new in Kongressia ghetto. The 
living aren't dead; the dead aren't alive. No, he doesn't know 
her parents. Find someone in the ghetto? Not a chance! No one 
lives where they used to. Even the dead don't have an address 
any more. No one even has a name any more. "Jew" is what pegs 
them all. Comes an Aktion and the German reaches into the 
ghetto as into a seed bag and pulls out a fistful; every seed that 
slips between the fingers gets a bit of a reprieve inside the 
gloomy sack . . . 

Why did she let them sway her? Why didn't she write to her 
parents then, when they were still at home? Two years in Cracow. 
Strange, not once during those two years did it occur to her that 
in that very city, almost within a stone's throw, was the King's 
Palace, the Vavel. The whole purpose of the excursion had been 
the Vavel. How could she forget! "Vavel . . ? Overnight the 
name liad taken on a meaning of dread. It clung to you day and 
night, making wakefulness a terror and sleep a nightmare. 

It was from the Vavel that Gauleiter Frank extended the rule 
of the German people. 

Vavel. How hearts used to quicken at the sound of the name. 
VavelMickiewicz's toinb. How could she forget! As if it hap- 
pened in another existence. So remote, so alien to everything 

IS 



about her now. A beautiful dreamgone, forgotten. But it still 
ripples through her being, softly, tenderly, like the lingering, 
dying whisper of a harp-string; like the haunting echo of a mel- 
ody of yearning 
A melody of another world 



14 



Chapter 2 



A bright world, radiant as an early-spring morning. A world 
full of mystic lures that beckon to young hearts. Summer's end, 
1939. 

DANIEIZA PBELESHNTK. 

She, the fourteen-year-old schoolgirl, could not fall asleep that 
night before her first excursion. She was seized with her first 
travel fever. The thoughts raced in and out of her mind as through 
a swinging door, leaving her keyed up with anticipation: Tomor- 
row, first thing in the morning, she is leaving for Cracow with her 
classmates on her very first excursion. How she had had to fight 
to get her way! Finally she prevailed upon papa, who kept argu- 
ing; "It's a bad time for excursions. . . , War is brewing. . . /* 
What has a war to do with a school excursion to Mickiewicz's 
tomb in the Vavel? Today is August 27, and on September 3, 
when the new school year begins, the class will already be back. 
So what's there to be afraid of? Those who want war don't have 
to go on the excursion. But she how does all that concern her? 

Beyond the window, the streets of Poland's industrial city 
Kongressia began drowsing off to sleep. A night trolley whizzed by 
from time to time, grinding its wheels against the tracks, you 
don't hear their clangor at all when they race through the city's 
bustling streets during the day. 

A full moon tarried on the crucifix spire of the church which 
the Jewish industrialist, Oskar Kahanov, built for his workers 
beside his large factory. A pale beam of light streamed through 
the open window into the elegant, white-lacquered children's 

15 



room, illuminating the packed knapsack on the table. On the 
other side of the moonbeam rose the soft, rhythmic breathing of 
sleeping Moni, Daniella's seven-year-old brother. 

. . . what a wonderful chance this will be to stop off in Metrop- 
oli and visit Harry. Shell go through with her plan even if it 
means missing the first day of school. Maybe she'll convince 
Harry to take her with him to Palestine now. He promised to send 
for her as soon as he got there; so why shouldn't he take her along 
in the first place? Of course, Mom and Dad mustn't get wind of 
all this. 

Daniella loves her brother Harry heart and soul. She idolizes 
him. Though he seems to have become somewhat estranged lately. 
Since Sanya came into his life, he has been slow to answer her 
letters. And his letters don't even sound the same. No question 
about it. He is completely absorbed with this stranger. Sanya 
stands like a wall between Harry and her. True, he doesn't say 
as much; but you only have to compare his early letters, so long 
and meaningful you actually had to study them, with the post- 
cards he's been sending her lately. Each postcard opens and 
closes with the same excuse: he's busy preparing for his coming 
trip to Palestine. Harry's visits, too, have become less and less 
frequent since he met Sanya. In the old days, when he used to 
visit, he would take her on long walks, ask her to concerts. Winter- 
time, they'd go ice skating together. Often, he would spring sur- 
prises on her. Leaving school after class, she would suddenly spot 
Harry waiting for her across the street. He would come up to 
her, gracefully doff his hat, and say, "May I have the honor of 
the mademoiselle's company for a brief afternoon promenade?" 

The girls wouldn't stop talking about him for days after that. 

Daniella tossed and turned in her bed. Strange fantasies, often 
taking on a hue of reality, wove and spun before her eyes, weav- 
ing her into them. On another sleepless midnight like this, she 
would surely turn on her desk lamp and sit down to write in her 
diary: at any other time, she wouldn't be afraid that Mom might 
see the light in the transom of tie chfldren's-room door. More 
fiian once has Ma come into the room at midnight to take away 
a book she was reading, or dose the diary she was writing in, 

16 



and shunt her off to bed. Tonight she can't take a chance: tomor- 
row is the excursion, and Pa still isn't too keen on her going. Any 
mischief now, and she'll really spoil everything. 

She must have the diary on the excursion. This time she's got 
to win first prize in the essay contest at school. Shell put her best 
into her description of the excursion. But she won't show anyone 
her essay. Except Harry she'll send him a copy. She must sur- 
prise him. She must win first prize. Then Harry will know whom 
to be proud of. 

She jumped out of bed, opened the desk drawer and took out 
the diary: tomorrow she might forget to put it in her knapsack. 
The moonbeam illuminated the thick notebook in her hands. It 
was bound in ornate purple velvet, and on the binding gleamed 
a small bronze plaque, shaped like a calling card, inscribed: To 
My Gifted Daniella, From Your Brother Harry. 

She began leafing through the book: 



Schoolboys and schoolgirls, now on their summer vaca- 
tion, take frequent walks in the city park. Some lean over 
the wooden bridge on the lake and toss bits of bread to 
the snow-white swan gliding across the mirror of water 
like a serene princess ensconced in reverie. From the ex- 
pression on her face you can tell she regards herself queen 
of this realm: the park and all of us standing around be- 
long to her. The sky and sun are her companions; the stars, 
her playmates. She passes the time of day with them, and 
has them over for an occasional soiree, when the moon 
drops in for a dip. She doesn't need the benevolence of 
mere humans. But when boys and girls throw crumbs into 
her lake, she comes drifting lackadaisically over to the 
bridge, imperiously scans the scene about her, plunges her 
noble bill deep, deep into the water and draws it up with 
a white bowlike flourish. She doesn't chew lest she be 
suspected of beggary but gracefully swallows her prey, 
and goes sailing majestically back across her mirror-lake-' 
a proud pauper. 

17 



Opaline veils of sleep fluttered over Daniella's long eye- 
lashes. out of the darkness of the park the white swan floats 
toward her. The long moonbeam streaming through the window 
flares into a lake. The swan twins itself. A brace of swans float 
near a long wooden bridge. Daniella stands on an unknown 
shore. The lake is a maelstrom of red and black. Behind her back, 
countless trains prance and reel. The train engines have faces, 
like leering drunkards. They grind screeching slaughter knives 
into rails. Daniella wants to flee. She wants to save herself. But 
she cant As if she were running against a gale. Her feet lift 
heavily, as though running under water. She turns around: Harry 
stands amid hordes of bristling slaughter knives. Everything is 
red, crimson red. Around him, at him, myriad heads of drunken 
train conductors guffaw through gaping maws. Knots of sparking 
smoke belch and billow from the train chimneys toward the crim- 
son-dark skies. Harry grows taller taller He towers above the 
smokestacks, his head reaching the sky. A white cloud enshrouds 
him. Pinions him. His petrified eyes gape at her. Trolleys with 
tall smokestacks start chasing her, breathing their terrifying 
clangor at her. The clangs burst through the open window into 
the children's room, reaching out to seize her and drag her out- 
side. The brace of swans suddenly spread white wings, beckon 
her to come to them: they will give her shelter. Daniella runs. 
The way is long. The nearer she gets, the further they recede. She 
stumbles. She is about to fall. She struggles frantically to reach 
them. She screams. But the scream sticks in her throat. Suddenly 
she feels herself plunging off a great height into a bottomless 
void, falling , . . falling 

As Daniella opened her eyes, the clangor of the trolley still 
rang through the night Her heart pounded violently, A cold sweat 
covered her brow. Her feet felt weary, as if she had really just 
been running with them. The fear still clutched at her, the dream 
lingered before her eyes a real, living thing. The fear, too, was 
real. 

The moon shaft no longer lay on the table. It now gleamed 
sharp and angular through a comer of the open window directly 

18 



at her head, appearing like a long, steel-sharp javelin piercing 
her temples, and pinned in the wall beside her bed. 

II 

The sky was a sheen o azure over Kongressia's high chimneys. 
A late August sun lavished its rays on the gray asphalt streets 
on which the first-term girls o Knowledge High School marched 
to the train. A soft breeze spun merry ribbons of sun through the 
bobbing ranks of girlish heads. 

Daniella paraded in the first rank, brimming with joy. her 
first excursion. What an adventure, what a cultural experience 
it's going to be! With her own eyes she will see her beloved 
Mickiewicz, almost all of whose poems she can recite by heart. 
But best of all will be her surprise meeting with Harry! 

She isn't too sure yet how she will carry out this rendezvous. 
Originally, she thought she'd wire him to meet her at the Metrop- 
oli station. But no, if Harry knows she's coming it will spoil the 
surprise. Best to arrive in Metropoli unexpected, wait near Harry's 
home, and when she sees him coming out, follow him a few steps, 
draw up alongside him, and with feigned indifference let fall, 
"Is mlord inclined to take a forlorn maiden for a brief afternoon 
promenade?" 

Oh, how delicious it will be! 

She marches airily along, her feet lifting eagerly as if in step 
with a lilting rhythm. Her knapsack is fastened to her back; she 
doesn't feel it. Her raincoat is folded over the knapsack. Ma had 
insisted she take it along, and this time she didn't dare disobey. 

Fourteen-year-old Daniella trips along. Sport boots laced high 
over her shapely legs, tawny face glowing in the sun, long, dark 
lashes shading her dreamy sky-blue eyes. 

Heads of relatives appear at the passing windows and bal- 
conies. Youngsters shout, "The first term is going on an excur- 
sion!" School children look enviously on. Mothers wave white 
kerchiefs. Tots gesture with their little hands, calling out girls* 
names. The marching heads send up blithe, elated farewell 

19 



glances, and from the windows and balconies come the parting 
replies, "Pleasant trip!" "Have a good time! . . .** 

Preleshnik, though he had parted with his daughter before 
leaving for his office that morning, was uneasy. A strange feeling 
prodded him to return home and again admonish Daniella not 
to forget to send home a postcard every day, letting them know 
how and where she was. Back in the house, he found Daniella 
already gone. An untidy emptiness showed from the children's 
room. Only her locket gleamed on the edge of the desk. In her 
haste she had apparently forgotten to slip it around her neck. 

Daniella had received the locket as a thirteenth-birthday gift 
from her father. Within the locket, in twin gold oval frames, were 
set two miniature portraits: one, of her parents; the other, of 
Daniella with her little brother Mont-Daniella in her school uni- 
form, two blond, white-ribboned braids tumbling down to her 
breast. Beside her, on a round straw table, sits three-year-old 
Moni, in a white sailor suit, his velvet eyes rounded at the queer 
black picture box in front of him. 

Preleshnik took the locket from the desk to bring it to Daniella 
at the station and, by the way, tell her again what was on his 
mind. But suddenly, he heard Moni weeping in the next room: 
Daniella had only just left, and he already missed his sister. 

Moni was seven years old, and of just the opposite nature from 
Daniella. He didn't like leaving the house; the world outside 
held no attraction for him. He even had to be bribed into going 
for a walk. Moni had his mother's soft, velvety eyes. These were 
the eyes with which his father had fallen in love at first sight 
Generations of rabbinical aristocracy shone in them. Often, when 
Preleshnik sees his son's eyes puckered up at him, he scoops him 
into his big arms, hugs him tight, frolics with him on the sofa, and 
nuzzles the little body, exclaiming rapturously, "My little monkey 
facel My pure little cherub I" 

Seeing his father in the doorway, Moni burst into a fit of tears 
and rushed into his father s outstretched arms. Preleshnik lifted 
him, snuggled the tear-soaked face to his cheek, his lips, his eyes, 
and murmured soothingly, "What is it, my little cherub? What's 
this crying about?" 

20 



". . . want Dani/' the child sobbed. 

So Preleshnik decided to take Moid along to the station to say 
good-by to his sister again. 

On the main platform, they found the girls raring to go, tibeir 
knapsacks at their feet The train has been delayed: the rails were 
commandeered by troop transports. When Daniella saw her 
father and little brother in the distance, she ran toward them, 
hugged Moni and kissed him. 

TDani, why are you going away?" Moni asked sadly. 

"To bring you a nice present, my pet/ 7 

On the rails before them, long trains reached off into the hori- 
zon: countless cars, some open on all sides, others closed. On one 
of the open cars, soldiers in white undershirts puttered about 
large steaming caldrons, preparing lunch. Near the soup caldrons, 
an accordion wheezed in the hands of a soldier sitting propped 
against a queer machine gun whose long barrel aimed skyward. 

Preleshnik didn't like this news of the train's delay at all. But 
he tried to keep an impassive face, so as not to dampen his 
daughter's spirits. He merely reminded hersince she has a 
tendency to forget, when, as her mother puts it, the "confusing 
Muse" possesses her to send home a postcard every day; and not 
to forget that as she had forgotten her locket on the desk. 

When the train finally pulled in, a gust of exhilaration swept 
through the girls. They clattered into the cars. Darnella's head 
immediately appeared in one of the open car windows. The sky 
danced in the blueness of her eyes, and a sunny comb ol breeze 
swept gaily through her golden tresses. 

The train started. Preleshnik and Moni, with them the station 
and all within it, slowly receded. Daniella's eyes were riveted on 
her father: one hand waved a white kerchief high above his head, 
the other held on to Moni. 

The train moved gradually off, A gray emptiness unfurled 
rapidly between the endless ribs of railroad track 

Daniella stood watching a long while, and her eyes cached the 
scene away forever. 



21 



Chapter 3 



The first to go on the German pyre were the Jewish townlets 
in Poland. 

The District of Metropoli was subdivided by the Germans into 
several isolated "J ew "Q uarters ^ ? each with its own German- 
appointed Judenrat. Movement from one quarter to the other 
was prohibited. If a fugitive Jew from one of the nearby empty, 
ravaged ghettos was caught in Metropoli, the Gestapo immedi- 
ately deported him to Auschwitz. But if the Judenrafs Jew- 
Militia caught such a Jew, they either turned him directly over 
to the Gestapo, or for a ransom allowed him to stay at one of 
the specially set up Assembly Centers, where they concentrated 
those whose identity cards lacked the Gestapo's red swastika 
stamp authorizing them to stay in the District of Metropoli. 

The militia concentrated the illegals in this manner so that 
if the Germans caught an illegal and demanded an explanation, 
the Judenrat could excuse itself: "We know all about these scum. 
WeVe only rounding them up so as to turn them over in batches 
to the Gestapo/' 

These illegals, therefore, were forbidden to sleep, let alone 
live, with their relatives or in any other private home. Anyone 
caught in such a crime was immediately shipped, together with 
his hosts, to Auschwitz. 

FROM DANIEIXA'S DIARY 

Metropoli, 2-16-42 

My dreams and my plans. My heart had spun them with 
the first gossamer threads of fantasy. Plans about my trip 

22 



to Palestine . . . plans about the moment my feet "would 
touch Metropoli for the first time. Simply to -walk it* to 
Harry's house this, I thought, was not enough. Better to 
wait for him outside and surprise him. I already knew the 
thrill of such a happy moment; I experienced it myself 
when Harry used to wait for me near school. He's the one 
who taught it to me. 

**. . . Ardent wishes teeming in the human heart are like 
seeds ejected into the invisible womb of the cosmos. 
They flower for the most part, but usually in such a form 
that the conceiving heart no longer recognizes them . . .** 

These words come back to my mind every time I recall 
my first night in Metropoli, after Zalke the smuggler left 
me standing among the dark ghetto alleys. He agreed to 
take me out of Cracow ghetto on one condition: since he 
has to smuggle two loaves of bread to a poor relative in 
Metropoli, I would have to help him by carrying a loaf. 
It seemed such a small thing* What is a loaf of bread, or 
a thousand loaves for that matter, against the prospect of 
finally being together with Harry! 

"Mr. Zalke!" I said. <tf lt won't be any trouble for me to 
take even both loaves, I assure you." 

"No!" he snapped. "Two loaves the Germans will nab 
at the border!" The main thing is, he kept drumming at me, 
if I'm caught, I musn't forget I'm an Aryan heading for 
Metropoli to look for a job. The bread? I found it. Didn't 
buy it; didn't get it. Found it. Found it near the railroad 
tracks; that's why it's so grimy. Also: never in my life saw 
Zalke; never even heard of him. 

Later it turned out that the bread I was taking to Zalke*s 
poor relative was full of diamonds and American dollar 
bills. 

**. . . Ardent wishes teeming in the human heart flower, 
for the most part . . ~ But when I first stepped into 
Metropoli, I completely forgot the golden fantasies my 
heart once spun about the moment of my arrival here. 
Just as it never dawned on me in Cracow that it -was the 

23 



site of the VaveL Yes, my ardent wish came true only in- 
stead of coming to poet MicMewicz's VaveL, I came to the 
Vavel of Gauleiter Frank. The same happened the night 
I arrived in Metropoli. It completely slipped my mind 
that this was Harry's home, and I remembered only that 
I must keep close to the dark walls of the ghetto shacks 
so a German patrol shouldn't spot me. 
Will this be the culmination of all my dreams? 

That night, Monyek Matroz, head of the Judenrat, ordered the 
Jew-Militia to take Vevke the cobbler from his bed and bring 
him to militia headquarters: the Gestapo big shots demand flashy, 
new, cork-soled shoes as gifts for their ladies. "Cork shoes like 
the high-falutin* kike bitches used to wear!" And who but the 
master cobbler Vevke will be able to fill the order to the satisfac- 
tion of the Gestapo rnesdames? 

In the militia orderly room of Jew-Quarter 3, the orderly of the 
day sprawled deep in an ornate leather armchair, one foot dan- 
gling over the upholstered arm of the chair. His blue-white cap 
cocked to one side and his eyes half asleep, he continued drawling 
indifferently toward Vevke, TPeople'd give a mint to be able to 
cross such a border. God protects fools? So whaddya know! This 
fool kid heads straight for militia headquarters. Beats me how 
such a gosling ever got out of Cracow ghetto, got in here, and 
they never spotted her." 

"What will you do with her?" Vevke asked. 

The militiaman didn't budge from his snug berth. He didn't 
even look at Daniella, as though it were not she they were dis- 
cussing. 

"Whaddya mean *whaV he grunted through his heavy eye- 
lids. Tomorrow she shoves off with the transport." 

In the split second that a ghetto dweller forfeits his life, in that 
split second does he sometimes retrieve it And both are chance 
occurrences. By promising to sew new leather soles on the militia- 
man's boots, Vevke saved Daxriella's life. He immediately took 
her to the Center at Heller's house, where he and his family lived 
in a hovel in the third court 

24 



II 

Daniella went down to the gate of the house. 

Sunday mornings, right after the militia has checked to see 
that none of the "illegals" are missing, Daniella can't stay put in 
her bed. Though the night curfew is still taut over the ghetto 
streets, and it is prohibited to step out, Daniella can't resist going 
to the gate. For Sundays, Harry comes to her from Jew-Quarter 1. 
Sundays they don't work in the factories. Sundays the Germans 
carouse in the taverns and it is easier for Harry to slink through 
the fields and come to her in Jew-Quarter 3. It's less dangerous, 
Sundays. 

The corridor leaving the house was already filled with human 
shadows. A dank air chilled the bones. Daniella turned up the 
collar of her raincoat She thought she would surely be the first 
to get here. She thinks so every Sunday dawn. But as soon as she 
enters the dark corridor, she senses that its walls are already 
draped with human shadows, mutely waiting to dash out under 
the lifting curfew. Someone approaches the gate, opens it, and 
immediately rustles back into place. You don't see him any more, 
just as you don't see a shadow melting into a dark corner. 

The dead, dark street peered through the open gate. The cur- 
few stretched across the ghetto like a black blanket. A foul end- 
less mizzle of snow-clotted rain smudged the darkness, what 
was her rush to get here? If not for the snow, she could hurry to 
the Judenrat soup-kitchen as soon as the curfew lifts, and in the 
compound there, near the fields, watch for Harry's arrival. 
Though it's senseless: Harry is hardly ever here before noon. She 
herself constantly urges and cautions him not to dare leave his 
Jew-Quarter earlier. By noon, the Germans are already plastered 
and the trip is not so dangerous. Strange: though she constantly 
begs Harry not to come too soon, she always rushes off to the 
compound as soon as the curfew lifts and stands there waiting, 
looking, her eyes straining to make out the little dot moving to- 
ward her from the foot of the low mountain, moving closer, larger, 
dearer. Strange; even from afar she always knows when it's Harry 
coming; his dot is different from the others. I only he won't come 

25 



too soon. If she could see Sanya, she would tell her not to let 
him leave before noon. Her heart tells her it will all wind up in 
disaster. If she could only make Harry stop coming altogether! 
Oh, God- 

The gate stood open. The night curfew lay over the stooped 
ghetto shacks like a lid over a gloomy pot. A moist snow hovered 
in mid-air as if it had drowsed off to sleep on the way down. 
Daniella snuggled closer to the corridor wall, out of the way of 
the draft 

... as soon as she earns a few marks, she'll go right to a 
cobbler and get herself some new half -soles. Oh no, not to Vevke! 
Even if she knows her feet will rot she won't go to Vevke! Vevke 
won't let her pay. Seems Hayim-Idl brought in some merchan- 
dise yesterday, a bundle of felts. Maybe she'll be able to make 
some money there. No chance of making any money after work 
at the shop. Before you turn around it's curfew time. If she doesn't 
fix her shoes in time, she'll be left barefooted. Sunday is the only 
day you can earn anything from Hayim-Idl. But by the time she 
gets back from the soup kitchen, the day will be over. Maybe she 
should go back to the Center now and ask Hayim-Idl if he has 
anything for her. She could still pick up a few marks before noon, 
before she runs off to meet Harry. Hayim-Idl is probably still 
asleep. What a bungler she is! Such a slob! Others manage to 
get everything done, while she all the time in the world doesn't 
seem to be enough for her. If she were more alert, she could still 
make some money before noon. But what if Harry shows up ear- 
lier? Oh, Hayim-Idl would surely have told her last night if he had 
anything for her. She's not sorry she refused to take Sanya's shoes. 
They're selling everything they have for bread. All Harry has left 
is the suit he wears. They'll be able to feed themselves for a week 
with Sanya's shoes. Brand new shoes. Mommy told her to wear the 
high sport boots on the excursion. Good thing she obeyed. She 
obeyed everything, then, only they should let her go. Now, she's 
at least able to keep her feet warm inside the high tops. She must 
remember to put new laces on her shoes today. They always man- 
age to get knotted up in the morning, when she's in a hurry to get 
to the shop. What a slob she is! 

26 



A little bead of flame glows somewhere in a corner. Someone 
draws long and deep on a cigarette. The ember flares and imme- 
diately wanes. The cigarette in the dark is still and so is the man 
behind it. 

The corridor is like a shadow-filled subterranean tunnel. The 
shadows are mute. Each was startled from his bed by his own 
calamity. All wait for the curfew to lift so they will be able to rush 
out: one to the Judenrat, another to a "fixer" who arranges things 
for a price. Each wants to find out if the husband, the wife, the 
son taken from them just yesterday is still in the ghetto; if, so 
long as they haven't been deported as yet from the ghetto, they'll 
still be able to catch a glimpse of them. 

Across the street, mute heads poke out of the house gates, watch 
apprehensively for the sight of someone on the street, for a sign 
that it is permissible for them to leave. Now there is not a sign of 
Me anywhere, as if the ghetto had breathed its last. Silence. But 
with the first glimmer of dawn, the shadows will spring to life and 
tear out of all the gates. One will start running and all the others 
will tear out after him. Grief, but a moment ago pent within the 
houses, will stampede out of the gates and fill the streets of the 
Jew-Quarter with its dread. 

Now, the shadows wait for day to break. But day is in no hurry 
to shine on the ghetto. As if it weren't worth its while. 

In the evening, at five o'clock, the gates are shut again. As cur- 
few time approaches, running feet again stampede through the 
streets. The Germans stalk their prey from every nook and cranny. 
Anyone as much as a split second late never gets home again. 
Greenberg the watchmaker from across the street was caught by 
a German just a few steps from his home. The next morning his 
wife probably stood there, feverishly waiting to run out: perhaps 
shell be able to get a last look at him. 

La the evening, at five o'clock, grief is again locked up in the 
houses. Glum and morbid, it crawls down the cramped walls, 
bends over the person and reaches the cup of sorrow to his lips. 

The corridor fills with more and more shadows, she might as 
well go up to the Center. When they all rush off, shell be left be- 
hind, alone, anyway. Where and how will she go? A few steps and 

27 



her shoes will be soaked with slush. And what' 11 she do at the soup 
kitchen compound now? In Jew-Quarter 1 Harry isn't even al- 
lowed to step out of his house gate yet. So what was the hurry to 
get down here? Up in the Center they're all probably still asleep. 
If only she could sleep. If she could at least turn on the light up- 
stairs. It's the darkness that drives her out of there. Here, in the 
corridor, the darkness is different. Here the darkness breathes. 

Silent shadows follow each other out of the courts and as silent- 
ly vanish into the darkness of the corridor, three courts. Amaz- 
ing how many people have been fitted into Heller's house. Each 
of the three courts must hold as many Jews as lived on her street 
in Kongressia. And there must be as many Jews living in the three 
courts as in a whole Jewish townlet before the war. Why, she saw 
all the Yablova Jews herded into the marketplace. "All Jews out! 
Everyone to the marketplace!" The class mistress was all ready 
to take the girls out with them to the Germans: "We haven't done 
die Germans any wrong! After all, they're human beings! Surely 
they'll understand!" But the young Jew who had come running in 
from the roads that morning begged her, "For God's sake, don't 
open that gate!" The Germans soon battered down the gate any- 
way. In the teachers' room in Kongressia, Viernik had fulminated, 
"It's all a bunch of stock-exchange horror propaganda! There will 
be no war!" As if it were all up to him. As if the whole world were 
no more than a classroom, all the people schoolgirls, and he their 
schoolmaster. "At the last teachers* meeting we decided on an ex- 
cursion, and an excursion there will be!" he wound up primly. 

Germans. 

It was the first time she had ever seen Germans. None of the 
girls had ever in her life seen a German, "Why should the Ger- 
mans want to harm them?" the class mistress couldn't understand. 
Viernik's head thudded to the floor of the stair vestibule. A second 
ago he was standing with all the others. How did the Germans 
ever spy him from outside? He had barely peeped through a cor- 
ner of the stair window. The pane wasn't even shattered; only a 
tiny round puncture by its edge, and on the wall oppositecrum- 
pled plaster splashed with brain. 

28 



A small man comes out of the courtyard, a large empty sack 
slung over his shoulder. His legs axe sunk, knees and all, in a pair 
of crude, oversize boots. He sloshes the boots noisily along the wet 
cobblestones, approaches the corridor and halts briefly by the 
entrance. Only now did Daniella recognize him: Shlamek! The son 
of the man on whose brow the Germans had branded the word 
JUDE. He came to this court several months ago, tagging after his 
mother as she supported his mangled father. He looked to be 
about six or seven, then. Now he looks like a stunted Ghetto- Jew. 
Sometimes she thinks she's also grown old and gray. But when 
she looks in the mirror, she sees she is prettier than ever and her 
blond hair richer and curlier. 

The boy with the sack on his shoulder goes into the dark corri- 
dor, parks himself somewhere, and is no longer visible. The dark- 
ness of the spot where he vanished spreads before Daniella's eyes, 
and like white contours of dense blackness the loose tops of 
Shlamek's boots are outlined above his knees, his father's ex- 
posed face when the towel slipped off his bleeding head. That 
day, Shlamek's father had returned home to ask the Germans for 
permission to take out a bed and blanket for his boy. The Germans 
set upon him with white-hot irons and branded JUDE across his 
brow and HEIL HITLER! across his chest. Only then did they let 
him out of his apartment. When the Judenrat was rounding up 
all the ghetto sick for a transport, ShlameFs father, before mount- 
ing the van, whipped off his boots and thrust them into the boy's 
hands: "Shlamek, take care of Mama. Don't . . ." 

Nearby, someone moves out of the darkness, walks over to the 
gate, cranes his head into the street, comes back to his former 
place, as though recognizing it in the dark. A damp draft comes 
sweeping from the court into the dark corridor, runs icy fingers 
over the bodies of the standing shadows. The skin shivers at the 
touch. The wind lets go a rakish whistle and breezes out the gate 
into the empty street, as if to flaunt its freedom from curfew reg- 
ulations. 

Outside, the moist snow hovered in mid-air as though it had 
drowsed off to sleep on the way down. Daniella wondered why 

29 



she was standing there; in any case she won't be running out with 
all the others. 

She drew up her coat collar and went back up to the Center. 

Ill 

The candle was flickering under the tin cup. Dvortche stood in 
the corner, her back to the room, warming some breakfast in the 
cup for the baby. Her shadow waggling on the nearby wall looked 
like Lindne^ the giant black-uniformed Gestapoman, storming 
in through the Center wall, reaching long arms at her throat. 

Hayim-Idl in his white underwear was bent over the open 
chest The curtain of his "villa" was drawn to the side. He was 
puttering in his "store," laying the felts out on the floor, studying 
their colors by the fluttering candlelight, and laying them neatly 
upon each other. He unwound the hatbands from their wooden 
spools, noted down their lengths, put them back in the chest and 
out again on the floor, as if he reveled in the mere sorting of the 
merchandise. Daniella sat on the edge of her bed, wearing her 
raincoat collar upturned. She couldn't decide whether Hayim-Idl 
would have any work for her today. 

Hayim-Idl is a pious young man, a go-getter. He managed to 
escape from his town with his wife and baby at the height of an 
Aktion. It's inconceivable how he managed to slip out at the last 
minute, carrying the eleven-month-old infant on his arm. It was 
during this flight that Dvortche, his wife, was suddenly struck 
deaf. 

Hayim-Idl deals in whatever comes his way just so there is 
always a piece of bread in his "villa/* Today he happens to be a 
felt dealer: unfinished men's and women's hats, leather and satin 
hatbands. As soon as Hayim-Idl came to live at the Center he set 
up a Spanish wall in a corner of the room, and he lives there with 
his family, he says, as in a private villa of their own. He has a 
kitchen there, he says, a dining room, a bedroom, a children's 
room for little Bella, and, above all, the store. The chest serves at 
one and the same time as table, dining room, and store. 

When Hayim-Idl has to pick up merchandise from a dealer or 

SO 



deliver to customers, Daniella wraps the sheets of felt around her 
midriff, girds them with several rows of hatbands, and carries the 
hot goods under cover of her wide raincoat through the ghetto 
streets. For this Hayim-Idl pays her handsomely. Both know well 
what is involved if she is caughtnot merely loss of money, but 
loss of life. 

On the bed opposite Daniella sits Hanna of Chebin, her closed 
prayer book in her lap. She looks to the dark window panes for 
dawn to break, when she will be allowed to start her morning 
prayers. Her delicate face is closed and there is a wistful sadness 
in her eyes. Tzivia, Hanna's younger sister, sits at the other end 
of the bed, one elbow propped on the bedboard, her chin cupped 
in the palm of the other hand, musing at little Bella playing on the 
floor with the dilapidated man's shoe the Oswiencim girl had 
brought along when she came here. 

The two sisters had fled here one midnight from an Aktion in 
Chebin. Both girls are devout former members of "Daughters of 
Jacob" who unfailingly say their prayers three times a day. Gene, 
undefiled souls. The two sisters have a brother in Jew-Quarter 1, 
Abram the trader; also a God-fearer on the face of it. But were a 
customer to turn up for God's own Throne of Glory, Abram would 
immediately sell him the Throne together with its Occupant. Ac- 
tually, the girls had fled to Metropoli only because their brothei 
lives here. But not only does Abram not help them, he exploits 
them. Instead of a mattress, they sleep on sheets of Abram's pre- 
war quality goods; and instead of a quilt, they cover themselves 
with twelve yards of doubled-over material, sewn together at the 
edges and sheathed in a colored blanket cover. Abram feels secure 
about his merchandise here at the Center; the Germans would 
never dream of searching here. More than once have they ran- 
sacked his home, since it was rumored at the stock exchange that 
high-quality prewar stuff was available at Abram's. But God in 
His mercy sent Abram's sisters to pull him out of a tight spot. 
What would he have done if not for Hanna and Tzivia at the Cen- 
ter? With money and pull, Abram fixed himself a transit pass, 
and he now travels from one Jew-Quarter to the next peddling 
his goods. Sometimes he remembers to dole Ms silent sisters a few 

SI 



marks. He is always in a hurry, intentionally or unintentionally. 
He wheezes into the Center and snatches a piece of goods from 
the girls' bed or throws one into it. Always the same refrain: 
"Customer's waiting" "Dealer's waiting" He never has a mo- 
ment for an extra word with his sisters. It might run into money. 

Abram has a son, eight-year-old Benyek. The little one is al- 
ready a full-fledged assistant in his father's business. Benyek is a 
handsome boy, alert and sharp. He can get six yards of cloth 
around his belly, and damned if a German eye will notice it. 
When Benyek sometimes comes with his father to the Center, he 
remarks, "Pop, Aunt Hanna hasn't had a bite today." 

"So why don't the ninnies speak up?" Abram growls as his 
nervous hands wrap a sheet of cloth around his midriff into low- 
ered trousers. But at the same time he considers: after all, the 
"ninnies" do take care of his merchandise. Cost an arm and a leg 
to get a stranger to do it. Stranger'd steal the stuff altogether. 
Anyone who still has a piece of bread to keep him going wouldn't 
take a chance on having any hot goods around. And anyone who 
is that hungry, no matter how lily white, can't be trusted with 
the stuff. Because who could pass up the temptation of such top- 
quality goods and let himself starve to death? Would he be any 
better? At which court could they sue him? He'd be crazy not to 
do it. So Abram hastily pulls a few marks from his pocket, thrusts 
them into Hanna*s hand, grabs Benyek by the sleeve and makes 
for the door: "Customer's waiting . . /' 

In the window, the panes were suddenly blue, how come 
she didn't notice the change? She hadn't taken her eyes off the 
window. Any other day by this time, she'd long since be sitting in 
the rag room. There you have no time to look at the window. Sun- 
rise doesn't interest you. Daylight doesn't drive the gloom out of 
your heart. 

The snow now falls whiter and denser. A solitary snowflake 
flutters furiously Just outside the window pane, as though wanting 
to tear away from the snow multitude falling without end to the 
ground. All at once, the snowfall looks like a multitude being 
herded to the trains during an Alction, and the snowflake as 
though it were pleading for the window to be opened, to be let 

S2 



in to hide. Finally, It falls prostrate against titte pane, melts into a 
waterdrop and trickles down like a tear out of an open blue eye. 

From the nearby corner, the porcelain tiles of the high stove 
stare at the window with white, frigid eyes, she doesn't recall 
the stove ever having been lit. Inside, the stove is probably hol- 
low. It would make a wonderful hideaway during an Aktion if 
you could crawl into it It would never occur to the Germans to 
look there. Pity Heller didn't think of making a secret door be- 
hind the stove when he built the house. If he had, he'd still 
own at least one thing a good bunker.* Mrs. Heller never stops 
harping about her tenants, who, she grumbles, are all doing a 
flourishing war business, but never remember to pay a few marks* 
rent A pretty passl Anything goes! But just who it is that* s doing 
all this "war profiteering," no one knows. Out of her lovely six- 
room apartment and its elaborate furnishing, Mrs. Heller wanted 
to save at least the bookcase, the only memento of her two sons. 
The militiamen hurled the case full of books out the window. You 
can put up a whole family where the bookcase is standing, they 
said. The books fluttered open in the wind and plummeted like 
shot birds down to the mud. Later, Shlamek gathered the books 
and laid them out on the ground so that his father shouldn't lie in 
the mud. No one would come out to the court to help carry in the 
Jew with JUDE seared on his brow. Everyone was afraid: the man 
is very sick needs a bed Who wants to give his bed away in the 
winter and sleep on the cold floor? After all, what does a man 
have he can call his own these days besides the bed they're letting 
him sleep in for a while . . . Meanwhile, the blood ran from the 
letters JUDE, and no one would help. "Shlamek, take care of Mama 
. . r Shlamek must be trekking about the ghetto backyards by 
now scavenging for pieces of lumber, stealing chunks from 
thrown-out furniture, toting the loaded sack on his frail, childish 
shoulders, and selling the wood for kindling to the ghetto rich. His 
mother lies sick in bed. Ought to visit her. Perhaps bring her 
something she needs. The moment curfew is off, Shlamek tears out 
through the gate to get to the courts ahead of his competitors. 
Why doesn't he chop up the rest of Mrs. Heller's bookcase? Prob- 

* Bunker: hideaway, 

33 



ably hasn't the gall to do it right under her eyes. All day long Mrs. 
Heller sits at her window watching this last relic of her two sons. 
Everyone had grabbed for the cast-off books. Everyone had books 
for kindling that day: thick novels; gold-backed scientific and 
scholarly works. Somewhere in the world right now, authors are 
probably still writing books. Then the books will be thrown out 
the window and a youngster will lay them out in the mud under 
his father's back. 

The Oswiencim girl crawls out of her bed, remains standing 
in her nightgown, stares at the tile stove as if it were the first 
time she were lifting her head that high. Suddenly, she jerks 
around, bends swiftly down, snatches the dilapidated man's shoe 
little Bella is playing with on the floor, dashes to the corner by 
the door, slides down to the floor and hides the shoe behind her 
back like a valuable treasure. 

The infant lets out a wail. Hayim-Idl jumps up from the chest 
and scoops the tot into his arms. Bella is in a paroxysm of tears 
and Hayim-Idl doesn't know what has suddenly gone wrong. No 
one speaks. Tzivia doesn't say a word. Hayim-Idl rocks the infant 
in his arms. The baby is his whole life. Several days ago he went 
tearing among the beds like a maniac, hugging Bella in his arms. 
DanieUa could never imagine Hayim-Idl looking like a wild ani- 
mal. "Piss on the free world! Piss on it I say!" he ranted over and 
over. Heller the landlord, who likes to drop in during curfew to 
chat politics with Hayim-Idl, had happened to remark, "After the 
war there will be a free world . . " "What's the good of a free 
world," Hayim-Idl railed, "if I won't be around and my baby 
won't be around? Piss on the free world! The devil take a free 
world that asks for the blood of my Bella!" 

Bella doesn't stop hollering in her father's arms and Hayim-Idl 
doesn't know how to pacify her. In the corner by the door, the 
Oswiencim girl draws the shoe from behind her back, hugs it to 
her heart and, sitting on the floor, offers it to Hayim-Idl with a 
trembling hand, as if letting go a dearest possession. The infant 
looks at the shoe like at a fascinating doll, and immediately stops 
crying. 

"You're all right," Hayim-Idl says to the Oswiencim girl. The 

34 



girl lowers her head and murmurs into her upraised knees, TDoif t 
want . . ." 

The girl brought this shoe along when she fled here, after the 
Germans had cleaned all the Jews out of Oswiencim to make way 
for their concentration camp "Auschwitz." She's about fourteen 
or fifteen years old. Maybe much older, or maybe much younger. 
It's hard to say. Sometimes she looks like a child, sometimes like 
an old woman. No telling when and how her face will next trans- 
mute right before your eyes. Some kind of quirk. When she first 
got here, the neighbors sometimes would give her a piece of 
bread, a potato. All because of her capricious face. Even the mili- 
tiamen were moved when they saw the comi-repugnant fickle- 
ness of her face, and quartered her in the Center and no ransom 
asked. She never says a word, and her eyes are always downcast 
When asked anything, she raises her eyes no higher than the 
questioner's feet, and simpers, "Don't want . , ." There hasn't 
been an Aktion in the ghetto that she hasn't foresensed. As if she 
had had advance notice from the Gestapo High Command. She 
always vanishes before an Aktior^ and manages to find herself 
hideouts no one else would ever dream of. She furtively steals out 
of the Center and as furtively steals back in when the trouble is 
over. With the same instinct by which a jungle beast senses the 
enemy's approach from miles away, she always seems to scent 
the Germans in advance. Not a single Jew in Oswiencim was 
saved. Not one of her family survived. No one knows what her 
eyes beheld there. She simply slipped in here one midnight with 
the dilapidated man's shoe in her hand. 

What secret does this man's shoe contain that the girl hugs it 
so to her heart? 

Outside, the snow falls white and dense. Hanna stands facing 
the window, praying out of the prayer book in her hands. Tzivia 
continues to sit on the bed, her head cupped in one hand, the 
other propped on the bedpost. Her eyes are fixed pensively on her 
sister's back. Hayim-Idl is back at his goods, putting them from 
the chest on the floor, and from the floor again into the chest. 

. . . why not just go up to Hayim-Idl and ask him if he has any 
work for her? What's all this bashfulness? No question, if he had 

35 



anything, he'd have told her. Maybe she should beg him for it 
But what good will her begging do if he hasn't anything. He 11 just 
have to turn her down. All it will do is make him feel sorry for her. 
"Feel sorry." Why call it "feel sorry"? The airs of a proud pauper! 
"Proud pauper . . /* Such familiar words! Where has she seen or 
heard diem before? the swan! She herself used these words 
in describing the swan: ". . . she plunges her noble bill deep, 
deep into the watery doesnt chewlest she be suspected of beg- 
garybut gracefully swallows her prey, and goes sailing ma- 
jestically back across her mirror-lake a proud pauper. . . " 

Daniella sits on her bed, hands rammed deep in her coat pock- 
ets. The room and everything in it was crammed in her eyes. Sud- 
denly she felt she was seeing it all for the first time; as if a moment 
ago she hadn't been here. Everytibdng seemed so glaringly strange 
and new: the walls, the snow falling outside, the open chest in 
Hayim-Idl's 'Villa/* the girl in the long nightgown sitting on the 
floor by the door what does it all mean? It must be a dream. 
Any moment now and she'll hear pa's gay whistle waking her to 
go to school. She'll open her eyes and there he'll be, like every 
morning, in the doorway of her room, his blue eyes smiling at her, 
the spotless towel slung around his neck, ready to take over the 
bathroom. Of course it's a dream . . . Everything around her 
now can't be more than a bad dream. Just like the nightmare 
where she saw herself running toward the swans, The fright of 
that nightmare is still there as real as ever. That time she was also 
positive she was really seeing it all happen. She can still see the 
faces of those train conductors. She sees them as clearly as she 
sees Harma there near the window, holding the prayer book in 
her hands . . . Harry bound within the cloud . . . A white cloud 
like the white snow falling outside. Harry gapes at her with petri- 
fied eyes. She still feels the horror that had racked her during that 
dream: they're after her! Bells clang and they're chasing her! Now 
she knows it was only the night trolley clanging through the 
street And when she comes out of this dream, maybe then shell 
understand why she- 
Hie door flew open. Fella breezed into the room. A round loaf 

56 



of bread was tucked under her arm. Her coat was snow-specked. 
She chucked the bread onto her bed and started shaking her flossy 
black curls like a handsome filly tossing its mane. The melted 
snowdrops spattered in all directions. "Wow! I wouldn't send a 
dog of a Judenrat man out in this weather/' Fella sallies, taking off 
her flashy coat and spreading it over her bedpost to dry. The room, 
until a moment ago stale and dreary,, now perked up at the breath 
of life that came in with Fella. "Hey folks!" she banters, "the 
bread isn't walking into your pretty mouths. What you waiting 
for? Want me to spoonfeed you like Dvortche spoonfeeds her 
Bella?" 

Hayim-Idl gets up from the chest, reaches into his "kitchen" for 
a knife, and goes over to Fella. "You know, Fella, if you don't cut 
up the bread and hand it to them, they'll just sit there like wall- 
flowers waiting to be asked. Looks like they're used to having 
their mamas spoonfeed them." 

Fella rolls her wet silk stockings off her shapely legs, hurls them 
under the bed like so much rubbish, and turns her head to the 
window. 

"Hanna! God's in the middle of an awful spat with his wife* 
He's so mad, He ripped his quilt to pieces. Can't you see the feath- 
ers flying all over the place? Why don't you leave him be? He 
doesn't give a hoot about your prayers right now anyway!* 

Hanna's shoulder flinches, as if wanting to shake off Fella's 
blasphemy. She goes on praying inaudibly from the prayer book 
in her hands, only her lips moving. 

"Shut your trap, Fella, or I'll shut it for you!" Hayim-IdTs 
voice booms out of the chest like out of a deep, hollow barrel "Go 
to bed, saint!" 

"Never you mind, Hayim-Iddie. God's laying out a nice free 
world for you. Better tell your Dvortche to get a juicy hot stew 
ready for the big day." 

"Enough out of you," he bellows into the chest "Better give 
your mouth a good rinsing before saying The-Name-I-Darerft- 
Mention. If s you and the likes of you that we're all suffering for!" 

Fella cuts the bread, tosses slice after slice to all the beds, "If 

37 



that* s the way it is," she retorts, "if it's me the Jews are suffering 
for, then Td better hit the hay. Nighty night, Hayira-Iddie! Nighty 
night, lovely free world!" 

"Good night, good night! Pleasant dreams!" Hayim-Idl flashes 
back. "Maybe you'd like to have me sing you a lullaby?" 

Fella pulls the blanket over her head, parrying toward Hayim- 
Idl: 'Take it from me, Hayim-Idl, your own little Bella could use 
a lullaby much better. If there's a God in heaven, He sure knows 
it! Ill sing me my own lullaby. Don't go putting yourself out for 
me." She curls up snugly inside the blanket, and her voice comes 
crooning from under it: 

"Pretty girlies get kissed, 
Ugly ducklings are hissed . . ." 

Fella is a beautiful, svelte brunette of about twenty, with 
twin rows of sparkling, laughing teeth. She was hardly along in 
her teens when men were already flocking around her. Fella knew 
all the ins and outs of the male heart. She knew how to wrap them 
around her finger and how to make them keep their distance. All 
in all, she showed them which was the "weaker sex/' 

But Fella made her biggest conquest while working as a wait- 
ress in the most fashionable saloon in her home town, Radno. The 
young Polish postmaster, Yeszy, fell in love with her and spent 
half his nights in the saloon just to be near her. He was ready to 
give his right arm for a smile from Fella. But Fella didn't want 
his right arm, and did not give him a smile. Men were an open 
book to Fella. The university of Radno-saloon was second to none 
in the world. 

During the Jew liquidation at Radno, Fella escaped to Yeszy's 
apartment. Yeszy was in seventh heaven. It didn't matter to him 
that Fella had come to him only to hide. He only knew that Fella 
was in his house, and that was all he cared about. But no sooner 
did the Germans post signs on all the house walls, "Death to any 
Pole hiding a Jewl" than Yeszy ordered her to leave. Can't she see 
she can no longer stay in his house? He said it in all simplicity, as 
if it were an obvious thing. Fella eyed him, said nothing. What 
was there for her to say? Yeszy wanted her to understand his po- 
sitionand she understood. She's no baby. Of course she under- 

38 



stands. Just one thing: Would Yeszy, who used to be ready to 
give Ms right arm for her smile, allow her to stay until dark? That 
evening, when Yeszy, like all the Christians in Radno, placed in 
the window an ikon of the Holy Mother over a burning kerosene 
lamp, as a sign that a pure Aryan lives there. Fella quietly opened 
the door and slipped out without a word. She slunk her way* 
through the Jew-less streets and across the fields to an old ac- 
quaintance of hers a militiaman in Jew-Quarter 3. 

Now Fella snaps her fingers at the world. "Lif e doesn't rate even 
one little tear from a girl like me!" she maintains. Every evening 
she goes to make a night of it at militia headquarters. Mornings 
she returns to the Center with a loaf of bread under her arm. Not 
for herself. Fella doesn't need any bread. Sometimes she also 
brings a whole package of margarine. She gives it out with all her 
heart, with laughing teeth. Even the two God-fearing girls help 
themselves to Fella's bread. If they knew what price she was pay- 
ing for the bread, they might not want to touch it But the two 
of them are still living in their own sinless world, with not an evil 
thought to cross their minds. 

Occasionally Fella brings home a pair of sheer silk stockings. 
She stretches them over her lovely legs, admires the exquisite arcs 
extended before her, sizing them up as a commander reviewing 
his troops presenting their gleaming bayonets. Convinced that her 
weapons will pass, she slams them down to the floor and starts 
whistling a merry hit tune. Daniella can help herself to her 
old stockings if she feels like. Or anybody else for that matter. Iff s 
all the same to Fella. Lots more where these came from. For all 
she cares they can rot under the bed. Fella isn't forcing anyone, 
Fella isn't begging anyone. She's just a good Md. Just one thing: 
how about letting her get some sleep now. She hasn't had a wink 
all night. They really went to town at the militia last night, and 
the bastards didn't lay off her all night Didn t even let her catch 
her breath. 



Chapter 4 



They sat on the stone steps of the Judenrat soup kitchen. 

Harry's clothes were soaked through and through with wet 
snow from the long trek through the fields. He fumbled at his coat 
buttons but couldn't get them open. As though it were something 
too hard to do. His hands were wet, numb from the icy wind. He 
felt as though his fingers were swathed in bandages. 

"It's murder, this winter/' he said. 

The snow on his hat was melting. She saw the water trickle, 
drop, drop off the faded, rumpled hat brim onto his back and 
shoulders, and immediately sponged up in the wetness of his coat. 
She wanted to take the hat off his head, but didn't. Her hands 
wouldn't stretch out. 

Harry turned back the flap of his coat and with both hands 
tried to pull a paper-wrapped parcel out of his pocket. Daniella 
watched his efforts with wide, mute eyes and it didn't occur to 
her that she could help him. It wouldn't have been any trouble for 
her to pull such a parcel out of the side pocket of his trousers. She 
was like one just coming out of a coma, whose mind is still in a 
fog. 

. . . always, before Harry comes, she has a thousand things to 
tell him. But the moment she sees him, she suddenly seems to lose 
her tongue. The words sink somewhere deep inside her, and some- 
thing altogether different wells up in their place. Waves, waves 
sweep over her heart toward her throat and clog there together 
with her breath. She forgets all the thousands of things she 
wanted to tell him. She feels like a bottle filled to the cork full, 
but looking empty, 

40 



The bread which Harry pulled out o his pockets was sodden 
with the rain that had drenched him down to the trouser pocket. 
The dark marmalade showed between the two oval crusts of 
bread. He peeled the soggy paper off one end of the sandwich 
and offered it to her: 

"Eat, Dani," he said. 

She looked at his outstretched hands. They were gnarled and 
wet, trembling like an old man's. She hastily took the bread from 
him, turned her face away, and with both hands held the bread 
to her closed lips. 

Always, whenever she thinks of him, she pictures him the 
way he used to look: handsome, elegant, cutting a very impressive 
figure. Even while waiting for him near the fields, when she talks 
to him in her thoughts, she sees him no differently. She can't pic- 
ture Harry looking any other way. She forgets. She always forgets. 
She is excited she's going to see him in a little while. But the mo- 
ment she sees him, her knees begin to tremble. She is panic-strick- 
en: she doesn't recognize the face. It takes some time before she 
accustoms herself again to the fact that this is Harry. 

Outside, the moist snow was still falling. Harry sat beside her. 
He looked out to the soup kitchen compound, not saying anything, 
as if he wanted to avoid disturbing her while she ate. The wooden 
fence around the compound and the two stark trees near it 
seemed from afar like a pencil sketch drawn by kindergarten chil- 
dren on gray cardboard. Every now and then wives of Judenrat 
officials rushed by the corridor entrance, carrying loaded baskets, 
sealed or well covered with a blanket to hide their contents from 
hungry eyes. Once this building was a Jewish school. Now it is 
the Judenrat supply depot Hundreds of people could have been 
housed here. But the Judenrat doesn't want anyone to see what is 
going on here. 

Harry was looking out to the compound. "The marmalade 
should taste good. Sanya kept it for you all week. This morning it 
didn't seem Td be able to make it. It's murder, this winter. Good 
thing It's almost over/* 

Slowly she raised her eyes to his profile. She felt as though pin- 
cers were clamping her throat She searched the face for some 

41 



trace of what it had looked like, but couldn't find it As though the 
old Harry had been burned to an ash within this frame, with the 
pain still smoldering around his head. "It's murder, this winter." 9 
Wintertime, whenever Harry came home to visit, they would 
both go ice skating together. No one else performed such figures 
on the ice. Everybody watched him with admiration and she 
would be so proud of him. She used to wish that winter would 
last forever, that it should never never end and that Harry should 
be home, always. 

At the window where the free soup was being distributed, the 
cries reached the high heavens. There hunger was ruthlessly 
kneading a gigantic human mass. Disheveled heads, hands clutch- 
ing pots overhead, women howling for mercy. The human dough 
heaved and tossed, interkneading with the falling wet snow. Each 
was afraid that when his turn comes the window will slam shut in 
his face: No more soup! Women screamed piteously out of the 
mob: They're being crushed! Men rammed elbows into hearts of 
feebler ones, cutting themselves a path to the window. The mili- 
tiamen stood by to make sure that only those who had first turned 
in their ration coupons reach the window. The rest didn't concern 
them. 

Every time the Gestapo demands a transport load of Jews, the 
Judenrat helps itself first to those who live off the soup kitchen. 
Everyone knows where the transports are taken. Nevertheless, the 
compound is always jammed with people. They disregard what 
will happen to them afterwards. They only know that now they 
can make for the soup kitchen with an empty pot and bring home 
some warm soup for the children. 

Harry muses: Ferber is now with the Rabbi of Shiliv, still try- 
ing to convince him that they are all going to die and that the only 
way for them to glorify God is by revolting as one man against 
the Germans. Good idea for Ferber to come to the compound. 
Here he would see how people **glorify"-~ for a plate of warm 
soup. Glorify God! What is it worth? Who will volunteer to go get 
killed if there's not even a spoonful of soup in it? Who'll pay at- 
tention to him? These people in the compoundthey certainly 
won't And if they don't, who will? Even Sanya, intelligent and 

42 



wise as she is, doesn't see eye to eye with Ferber. And lie himself, 
is Ms mind all made up about it? Could he agree to something 
which would mean certain death for Sanya and Daniella? Tedek. 
Clear-minded Tedek. The hundred-per-cent man. That steel will 
in the eyes. Just one glance at him told you that here was a man 
who knows what he wants and that he would get there. Sanya had 
argued, "Tedek is going out to certain death." And Ferber re- 
torted, "A dead man can't go out to his death." And what was the 
outcome? Whom did his disappearance benefit? An hour before 
he went out of the ghetto, Tedek said, *Tm leaving the ghetto not 
as a dead man, nor as one heading for death. I'm leaving the ghet- 
to because I'm alive and am going to bring life to others! My go- 
ing will pave the way for all of you. 7 ' Won't everyone be going in 
Tedek's "paved way**? Then Ferber must be right. But couldn't 
Tedek still be here now, together with us? Then Sanya is right! 
Where does this lean redhead Ferber get this drive burning in 
him day and night? Where does he get this tenacity and courage? 
Can he win over the Rabbi of Shiliv? 

Through the compound gate comes a dilapidated wicker baby 
buggy on tall, spindly wheels. An old man sits in the buggy, and 
two youngsters a boy and a girl wheel it along. The boy pulls 
the buggy with a rope in front, and the girl pushes it with her 
hands from behind. The old man's knees are raised level with his 
head, their angles jutting from the baby buggy. In the crook of his 
stomach, between his knees and head, sits a big, sooty pot The 
snow falls mercilessly on the buggy, on the old man's scraggly, 
grizzly-green beard, on the raw, peeled-down lower lids of his 
bleary eyes. He doesn't budge, as if it does not bother him at all, 
the way it doesn't bother the bare tree stump there by the fence. 
The children wheel the buggy up to the window, where they have 
to turn in the ration coupons. The boy goes up to the old man, un- 
does the coat button over his chest, and pulls out the soggy ration 
card. The old man's head doesn't stir. He stares blankly with the 
red-fleshed lower lids of his dripping eyes at the wet stone wall of 
the soup-kitchen building. 

. . . Harry was never this quiet. There was so much she was 
going to tell him before he came, and now she feels as though her 

43 



ttiroat were clogged. It would feel so good if she could only cry 
herself out on his shoulder. But that would only make it harder 
on him. Never has he been this quiet. He always had so much to 
talk about, and how she loved listening and telling him of her own 
thoughts and feelings. He probably doesn't touch a piece of bread 
all week. You can't even get a loaf of bread at the black market 
on the monthly wages of the shop. Who collects the miserable 
salary anyway? Everyone is afraid. They all want to broadcast 
their patriotism to the Germans, their readiness to give up the 
salary for the cause. Harry probably doesn't take his wages at 
Schwecher's either. He wouldn't want to be the only one. She at 
least makes something once in a while. She's much better off than 
he. He'd have been terribly hurt if she hadn't taken the bread. 
She knows it If he only knew that she can't swallow the bite 
down, that she chokes on his bread. But she knows that he wants 
so much for her to eat. How can she tell him how awfully drawn 
his face looks? That he needs the bread much more than she? 
"Sanya kept the marmalade for you all week'' Who knows how 
long they've been saving the two crusts just so Harry could bring 
them along today? When Sanya used to visit them in Kongressia, 
the whole house would tingle with her impish gaiety. In those 
days she didn't really know Sanya. She was such a baby then. But 
she should have known even then that if Harry had chosen Sanya 
for a wife, she must be more than just a cute flirt showing off 
stylish suits. Everybody used to stop and stare at her on the street. 
"A Paris model . . ." they would buzz. It's been a long time since 
she last saw Sanya 

"How is Sanya?" The question slipped out unexpectedly. She 
was surprised herself to hear the words come from her mouth. 

"Sanya is doing all she can to get the Judenrat to let you live 
with us. It's almost all set. But there's still the problem of getting 
you placed in a shop." 

Deep down Daniella knew that she would never agree to it. 
If she lives with Harry hell have to feed her, too. Harry will 
never allow her to smuggle the goods under her coat, which 
means she won't be able to pay her way any more and will be 
taking away his last bite. No. Never. Harry wants to throw every- 

44 



thing over for her sake. Sanya will never be able to get the red 
Gestapo stamp for her. Silly. You just don't get such things. AH 
that will happen is that they'll catch her in Harry's place, and all 
three o them will be sent off to Auschwitz. Harry has become so 
reckless . . . 

"Too bad all the trouble Sanya's going to/* she said. 

"Why, Dani? Maybe you and Sanya will even work together in 
the same shop/' 

"111 never agree to such a thing/' 

He swung around to look at her: 

"You, Daniella, will do as I tell you! Sanya knows what she's 
doing!" 

The harsh tone of Harry's words was sweet to her ears, al- 
though she knew that in this case she would never obey him. The 
firmness of his voice warmed her heart with love and gratitude. 
Like a mother at the sickbed of her child too weak to talk, sud- 
denly hearing him bawl her out violently. 

When Harry turned to look at her, he saw her still holding the 
bread to her lips, untouched. 

"Why don't you eat, Dani?" he asked softly. 

She looked to him. Their glances linked. 

Til eat it there, in the Center," she said. 

He put his arm around her shoulder and she nestled her head 
on his heart The cold wetness of his coat was near and dear to 
her as part of him. She felt hot streams washing over her heart, 
rushing into the throat, the eyes. She felt the touch of his hand 
on her hair. She felt she must hurry and say something. But there 
was nothing she could say. There wasn't a word in the world that 
could solace him and her; a word that would make up for the 
wetness of his coat, the fields hell soon have to slosh through, and 
all that's happening around them here in the soup-kitchen com- 
pound. She wanted to cry. 

TBarrik," she said, "you were never this quiet" 

He stroked her head. Outside, the sky hung dank and bleak 
over the compound. The house they were sitting in was like an 
ark carried along on a flood, and the trees in the distance like the 
outstretched ^pns of drowners. At the soup window, three chil- 

45 



dren. supported their swooning mother whom they had dragged 
out of the mob. The woman didn't have the strength to walk by 
herself. Her own limbs were too much for her to lift, but her 
clamped fingers wouldn't let go of the empty pot. The children 
led her away, and wailing "Mama! Mama!" they brought her to the 
wall of the building. No one turned to look at them. The rain 
poured angrily, mixed with wet, sticky snowflakes. No one paid 
attention to them, 

Harry gently caressed her head. He was looking outside. The 
words rang in his ears. "Yow were never this quiet . . r 

"What' s there to say, Dani?" he said 

She raised her head to him; 

"You know, Harrik, sometimes it seems that all this is only a 
dream. Sometimes I feel Tm going to wake up and find it was just 
a horrid nightmare. You'll again come home from Warsaw with 
the pretty tan suitcase in your hand and the traveling coat over 
your arm. Once more we'll just get up and walk anywhere we feel 
like. No more Jew-Quarters. You'll wait for me near school, come 
up and doff your hat with a deep bow. Remember? . . . But 
don't forget to say: 'May I have the pleasure of the mademoiselle's 
company for a brief afternoon promenade?' Remember to say, 
Harrik -to say*' 

The words came out spasmodically. A stifled weeping writhed 
in her throat He drew her to him. 

TDani, Dani," he soothed, "of course it's only a dream. It's all 
a dream a passing dream.' 1 

She looked at him with wide, dazed eyes. "No, Harrik. This 
isn't a dream/' Her fingers fluttered over his face, groped along 
the protruding bones of his sunken cheeks. "No, Harrik, this is not 
a dream Oh, Harrik." 

He pressed her head to Ms chest. Her shoulders heaved as she 
wept. He didn't know how to calm her. She herself wanted to 
calm down, but couldn't 

An excited man huffed into the corridor where they sat, holding 
with both hands a steaming pot of soup. The steam rose from the 
pot toward his agitated face. He parked himself in a corner near 
the wall, as though hiding from someone, or as if he couldn't spare 



the few additional steps to the staircase, where he would be able 
to sit and eat unmolested. He held the pot close to his mouth, and 
with a tin spoon kept bailing the soup into his mouth without 
pause, without stopping for a breath. Sweat and melted snow- 
flakes streamed down his flushed face into the pot He didn't in- 
terrupt his meal even to wipe the rivulets of sweat and water from 
his brow. 

A little girl of about six stopped at the corridor entrance. She 
had finally found her father and remained standing there, looking 
at him, as if afraid to get too near him. The rain was dripping 
from her scrubby braids. She was wrapped in a large, patched 
man's jacket girded with a piece of string. The oversize sleeves 
were rolled up the scrawny little arms. Silently she gazed up at 
her father's open mouth and at the spoonfuls of hot soup continu- 
ally disappearing into it 

Daniella embraced Harry's hands between her palms. She 
looked at them with lowered head as she spoke, "Shameless me. 
You risk your life every Sunday to come to me and all I do is 
blubber at you. I'm no good." 

"What's this you're saying about my goldilocks? You are my 
own golden Dani! My lovely blossom" 

"You always called me your lovely blossom, Harrik. Re- 
member ?" 

"Of course you're my lovely blossom. Of course I said so.** 

"You know, Harrik, always before you come, I have a million 
things I want to tell you. But the moment we're sitting together, 
I forget- 1 always forget Only later I remember, when you're 
gone. What a pig I am. Why did I have to cry?" 

"When the heart runs over, we cry. What other relief do we 
have these days?" 

"You always were wonderful. Mommy always loved you more 
than me." 

That* s not so. My, but aren't you still the jealous little cat." 

"Harrik," she suddenly strung out Ms name very earnestly, *I 
have something to tell you." 

*Aha, there goes my little blabbermouth. What is it this time?* 

TFirst promise to keep it forever between us." 

47 



"All right, if that's the way you want it. So I promise/' 

"Nor She gripped his hand as in a handshake. "Only if you 
shake on it!" 

"Piggyhead! Who doesn't know Dani the piggyhead? All right! 
Ill shake. Your hand's so warm!" 

"Not "all right'! "Honest to goodness'!'' 

" 'Honest to goodness'! Am I going to hear it before curfew 
time? 

"You know, Harrik, back in Kongressia I didn't especially care 
for Sanya. But that was then. Today I love her more than I love 
you you promised! Remember!" 

Harry put on a grave face, as if he had just heard some news 
of great importance. Secretly he was glad to see Daniella trans- 
formed before his eyes back into the child she really was. He 
knew how desperately she needed a father's caress, a mother's 
embrace. Her spirit thirsts for it like a parched plant for a drop 
of dew. He was happy that he had been able to distract her for 
a little while as one distracts a child. He pulled himself together 
and continued, "Now you'll admit you've always been a jealous 
little cat. Confess now isn't it so?*' 

She nodded poutingly. 

The man in the corner had finished the soup in the pot. He 
licked the spoon clean on both sides, shoved it into his breast 
pocket and turned to leave the corridor. The little girl stepped 
out of his way. He passed her by as if he did not see her. She 
turned around and dumbly followed him out. 

After a few steps outside, the father swung his head around 
to the tagging childas though he had only just noticed her 
scowled at her, and like a preoccupied person trying to brush an 
annoying fly off his nose, he hissed through his teeth: 

"Die!" 

And walked on. 

The girl stood there. She was afraid to move a step forward 
lest she get too near her father. "Die!" The ground-out curse from 
between his teeth was well known to her and frightened her more 
than the hunger in her stomach. The wind whipped her face with 

48 



lashes of wet snow. She did not weep. She was fust very lonely. 

The father was darting ferrety glances, now toward the militia- 
men on duty, now at the soup window. It was obvious he was 
scheming how to cut back into the throng without the militiamen 
noticing. Once lost in the mob, he'll know what to do. The main 
thing, to get by the militiamen. 

"You really think there's no hope of getting word from Pa and 
Ma?" Daniella suddenly asked. "Zalke promised that if he makes 
it back to Metropoli again, hell try to bring a letter from them 
and leave it for me with Leon the gold dealer. I have to stop in 
there every so often to check if there is anything." 

Harry mused: With the snake pit proper, with Berlin, he had 
managed to make contact He even talked to Berlin by phone. 
But to Kongressia ghetto, the realm of a Jewish Tang," there is 
no getting through. As if the ghetto were immured in steel 

"Don't you dare go to the gold dealer!" he admonished. "The 
Germans might pull a search just when you happen to be there. 
They'll be looking for gold, and they'll find you. I'll think of some 
other way of contacting Kongressia. I've had a promise about 
that." 

Like welded links of a chain, image after image flashed through 
her mind: Zalke, the bread full of diamonds and dollar bills, the 
Russian "porker" the seam ripper found under the patched knee 
of the overalls, Schultze, the German supervisor, the arrival of the 
Germans in Yablova, her father's face fading into the station, 
Moni, "Dani y why are you going away?" 

All at once she said, "Heller the landlord says the war won't 
last much longer. Want to see Moni?" 

She unbuttoned her coat and drew out the locket hanging on 
her breast. She leaned closer to Harry. Their heads touched. The 
innocent, cherubic face of their little brother gazed at them from 
Daniella's palm with velvety astonishment They could hear him 
calling them by name. 

"Moni would be nine now," she said, 

Harry took the locket in his hand, turned it over. There, his 
father's face looked up at him with deep blue eyes the very eyes 

49 



he and Daniella inherited from him and by his father's head, the 
gentle face of his mother, the face he loved and worshiped above 
all in the world. 

"The loveliest couple in the world, Pa and Ma," she whispered. 

Under the balcony, near the house wall, the woman sat on the 
ground in frozen posture. The rain cascaded and swept a tuft 
of hair down her face. It was hard to make out whether she was 
alive at all, in a swoon, or just staring with stony eyes at the three 
children scampering about her, their little heads huddled be- 
tween emaciated shoulders because of the downpour, and taking 
turns wailing, "Mama! Mama!" 

The sweep of hair on the woman's face gave Harry no rest 
Where and when has he seen this woman before? When was 
there a similar downpour in which he had seen her with the self- 
same rain-swept tuft of hair? The riddle burrowed in his mind 
the way you sometimes forget a simple expression, the name of a 
familiar, everyday thing; you can see it in your mind, almost touch 
it with your tongue, but you just can't nudge it out to your lips. 
He remembers it was just this kind of downpour. He sees the tuft 
of hair against the backdrop of a downpour. Seems he even saw 
the children. But where, when? . . 

Daniella was looking at the picture in the locket, sunk in 
thought. Outside, the snow now fell denser and crisper. In the 
center of the compound the baby buggy was still standing, with 
the old man in it in the same pose as before. The big empty pot 
on his stomach suddenly looked like an intricately wrought ash- 
tray welded to the midriff of a classic mythological figure. 

Suddenly it hit him. The picture flashed into his mind in clear 
focus. He remembered: of course, the woman with the sweep of 
hair on her face! 

It was after a major Aktion in the ghetto. He had hurried to 
find out about Daniella. At the train the Germans were already 
loading the captives into the cars, while in the ghetto the first 
hiders were scuttling out of the holessome to avoid asphyxiation, 
some to find out who of their family had been taken. They 
scurried about helter-skelter, their eyes wild with terror: though 
the captives are already being loaded into the trains, the Ger- 

50 



mans are liable to return to the ghetto if they find there is some 
room to spare in the cars, and pick up whomever they come across. 
The hole looked like it had been dug with frantic hands and 
hastily covered over with branches and junk. The woman crawled 
out of the earth as from a grave. The gritty tuft of hair was dan- 
gling down her face. She stood on top of a mound, eyes glaring 
down toward the railroad tracks. As the trains started pulling 
out, she clapped her hands, and murmured fervently, "Praise the 
Lord they're finally being taken! Praise the Lord they're finally 
being taken! . . ." 

She didn't stop clapping her hands and praising God. 

In the hole, the children lay curled like worms in the subsoil. 
The same strand of hair. Downpour. 

But it wasn't a downpour of water; it was a downpour of fire 
and fury, God's wrath. 

At the window, soup distribution was over. The sky sagged wet 
and gray onto the compound. The huge mass of people, who but 
a moment ago had filled the world with their clamor, now crum- 
bled like a dried-up dough. Each to himself. As if the: paste 
which had previously held them together had suddenly dried up. 
The people trailed off, bowed, silent, each his way. Beaten mini- 
kins. Empty pots. Faded into the wet grayness between sky and 
earth. Only the baby buggy with the old man in it remained 
standing in the center of the compound, like a rare art object 
in a large museum hall set aside especially for it. 

Harry stood up. He went over to the corridor entrance. Out- 
side, it looked as if the world had condensed into a dank, gray 
mist He couldn't see the fields or the mountains on the way to 
Jew-Quarter 1. 

"Almost curfew time," he said. "Sanya will be worried." 

Daniella went up to him. The whole while she'd been wanting 
to tell him this, but could not bring herself to it She kept pushing 
it off to the last moment 

"Harry, promise you won't come through the fields any more. 
Not until you have a transit pass. You're taking your life in your 
hands. I can't understand how Sanya allows it" 

Harry suddenly remembered. 

51 



<e Oh, yes, I meant to tell you. I might be put on night shift 
I don't know when I'll be able to come again. Night-shift workers 
hardly ever get Sundays off." 

Her heart twinged. He won't be coming any more! She tried 
with all her might not to show what she felt. Just a moment ago 
she had asked him not to come. She had insisted on it 

"It's terrible, working at night," she said, 

Harry buttoned his coat all the way up. For the thousandth 
time he now wondered: He always meets his quota. Why does 
Poldek the supervisor pick on him? Of all the machine operators 
in the tailor shop he picked him for the night shift! What did he 
do to Poldek that he suddenly started going after him so sadis- 
tically? He sits there in the corner at his machine aU day, mind- 
ing his own business. He was always sure nobody notices him; 
that Poldek doesn't see him, or watch him, let alone know him. 
Why did Poldek pick on him? 

"Its not as terrible as it seems/* he said. "Nothing is terrible any 
more, Dani. It only hurts me that I won't be able to see you as 
often as before. Don't let it upset you, Dani. Sanya's bound to 
get your transfer through." 

He embraced her head and drew her eyes to his lips. "I've got 
to run," he said. 

Daniella quickly undid her coat and stripped off her sweater. 

"Take it, Harry," she said. 

"Not for the world! What an idea!" 

"You put that sweater on this minute! I have my raincoat and 
you still have such a long way ahead of you! Put it on this instant, 
you scamp!" 

"Piggyhead! Who doesn't know Dani the piggyhead?" 

She forced his coat off. It was wet and heavy with water. She 
pulled the sweater over his head. His body was all skin and bones. 
The sweater seemed terribly big on him. She clenched her teeth 
to suppress a scream. 

She stood at the edge of the compound watching him fade out 
of sight From time to time he turned his head to her. From the 
distance he looked like an old, derelict vagabond, drifting along 
the bleak byways of the world. Before disappearing behind the 

52 



first mountain, he halted for the last time, swung around to her, 
and with a deep flourish doffed his hat to her from afar. 

The scene flashed before her eyes and tore daggers at her 
heart- 

"May I have the pleasure of the mademoiselle's company for a 
brief afternoon promenade? . . ." 



53 



Chapter 5 



Winter passed, summer came. No one even noticed it. In the 
ghetto they had long forgotten to notice such things. The sun 
does not dry tears, as the poets have it. For they kept flowing 
ever fresh as from a well which, it seemed, would never run dry. 
In the ghetto streets no children played. In the ghetto there 
were no children. There were small Jews and there were big Jews 
all looking alike. The children wore on their little sleeves the 
same Jew armband as the elders. Just as with the yellow patch 
sewn against the heart. Dvortche, Hayim-IdTs wife, embroidered 
a tiny yellow hexagram, like a Star of David, and sewed it to 
Bella's dress over the heart. "How sweet! How cute!" Hayim-Idl 
couldn't stop rhapsodizing. And the tiny patch really had poignant 
charm, like the first wee white shoes of an infant. 

That still another summer was passing, nobody in the shoe shop 
noticed. But everyone did notice that the canteen man had gotten 
himself a new partner. The turnover in the canteen in the shoe 
shop attic grew by leaps and bounds. Lately the canteen has 
branched out like a secret holding company, with invisible share- 
holders somewhere outside the shop walls. 

Originally, the semi-dark attic was just a cloak room. The can- 
teen man handed out checks and took care of the shop workers* 
clothes. At the same time, he also carried a sweetish soda of sorts. 
What else was available in the ghetto? Even this cloying drink 
was a luxury only the rich "screwturners" could afford. By now the 
canteen has become a big operation. There you can get the choic- 

54 



est dishes: roast goose, cheesecake, beer, and potassium cyanide. 

The choicest cyanide. 

In a corner of the attic, behind the door, stands a man with 
a sphinxlike expression, hand buried in his trouser pocket With 
him there is no talk. With him the transaction is carried out word- 
lessly. Just with the eyes. The incomer extends a tremulous hand. 
Not raising it, but holding it by his thigh, palm up, he extends 
quavery fingers. One pair of eyes asks: 

"Sure it's all there?" 

The second pair of eyes replies: 

"Sure thing" 

"You're not holding out on me?" 

Sphinxface in the dark corner puts a reassuring hand on the 
doubter's shoulder, pats him lightly, intimately, and sends him 
off, stating with his eyes, "Relax. It's all there. . . ? 

After this mute spiritualistic rite ? the cobbler is ready to go 
ahead and eat cheesecake. 

A cheesecake industry. Where do they get such cheesecake 
nowadays? Cobblers didn't set such cheesecake on their tables 
even before the war! 

From the darkness behind the coat hangers, the canteen man's 
head keeps materializing out of the floor like an apparition, dis- 
pensing slices of cheesecake. One of the partners stands on the 
margin between the dark and light, whispering continuously at 
the floor: 

"Quarter." 

"Bubbler." 

"Goo." 

The canteen man sprawls some place on the floor, weighing 
slices of cake, ripping chunks of roast goose, uncapping beer 
bottlesand dispensing. There is so much to be done. The cus- 
tomers are in line waiting their turn. He doesn't let out a sound. 
He just dispenses. Here's the quarter a quarter of roast goose; 
here's the bubbler a tall glass of foaming beer; and here*s the 
goo a half-pound slice of cheesecake. All without a word. Hands 
reach out of the dark and serve to the heart's desire. The cheese- 
cake pans are concealed in the hollow between the attic floor and 

55 



the macMne-room ceiling. On the wooden floor lies a pile o 
clothes, ostensibly brought in for ripping. 

A day-long pilgrimage to the attic. Those going up, those coin- 
ing down. They pass each other on the stairs, not saying a word, 
not exchanging a glance. Each knows why the other is on his 
way up to the attic. By the entrance they stop and wait silently 
for the others to come out. Each knows why the other has come 
here, and why they are all standing here. So they wait in silence, 
like men waiting together in the foyer of a brothel. 

II 

When Daniella heard the terrible news, Harry was already 
loaded on one of the trains. 

It happened during a week end, on a beautiful summer night. 
The Germans swooped down on the night shift in Schwecher's 
tailor shop in Jew-Quarter 1, stopped the machines, and took the 
workers to the labor camp. 

Harry was among those taken. 

In the shoe shop Vevke roamed from room to room, from table 
to table, and just could not settle down. Work in the shoe shop 
was not the way it used to be. The ghetto atmosphere rushed in 
through the walls of the fortress called shoe shop like the sea 
into a floundering vessel. Vevke wanted to go over to Daniella 
and console her. But when he got to the threshold of the rag 
room he halted. His feet wouldn't take him any further. Seeing 
the girl's head lowered to the garment she was ripping, the con- 
soling word suddenly dried up inside him and he could find noth- 
ing instead to say to her now. The girl's despondent face bared 
the unhealed wounds in his own heart. He always feels his own 
pain most acutely through the pain of others. Better not go to her 
now. He wheeled around and went to one of the cobblers' tables, 
snatched up a pair o "mates," with the other hand pulled a 
wooden sole out of the basket, and dived into work, like someone 
going into a tavern to drown a racking sorrow. 

The news about Schwecher*s shop was no longer discussed at 
the cobblers' tables. It was already just another one of those 

56 



ghetto events, a thing of the past. But then politics, too, wasn't 
discussed any more either at the high cutting-tables or at the 
low cobblers' tables. Gone were the sweet snatches of stolen 
conversation at the tables. Moreover, no one even missed them. 
Everyone put questions to himself that could not be discussed 
with others. Everyone wondered; Whose tarn will it be next? 
When will the next Alction strike? What will it be like? Will 
it again be the shops? Or a children's Aktion? Or maybe the 
women this time? The childless calculated that it had been a 
long time since the last children's Aktion, and decided it was about 
time for the children. Fathers of sons figured out that it would 
be the daughters this time. Each found that he himself was not 
in the category due next, and one and all were sure that after the 
big raid at Schwecher's, the Germans would lay oS the shops for 
at least a while. And what does one crave above all? a little while. 

One more breath, and you may be liberated. 

Bergson, the cantor of the "atheists' " synagogue, looks side- 
ways at the hammer falling rhythmically in Vevke's hand, and at 
the nails sprouting and vanishing so systematically into the nar- 
row tape around the wooden sole. With himself, Bergson muses, 
the "mates" are always either too long or too short for the sole. 
Though it seems to him he's always very careful to pick the right 
size "mates." Must be some unfathomable cobblers' secret. Not 
once did his blood freeze on seeing the last nails play him dirty. 
It's never until the last nails that the "mates" show themselves to 
be out of kilter. More than once has Schultze sent people to Au- 
schwitz for this kind of slip. "Willful sabotage" he calls it If not for 
Vevke he'd long since have ended up in Auschwitz, Vevke never 
misses the meaning of his upraised eyes, and always knows how to 
save the shoe* And always in the nick of time. It's beyond him: No 
sooner does the shoe feel Vevke's touch than the long isn't long 
any more and the short isn't short. Just some cobbling secret! 
But even Schultze has cut down on his slinking along the work- 
room walls lately. All told, the shoe shop now looks as in the 
midst of a mourning recess; the festive-mournful air of stores 
closed for the funeral of some great personage. It had always 
been so crowded at the cutting tables, and at the cobblers' tables 

57 



your arm couldn't move freely because o your neighbor's arm. 
Even the "screwturners" don't show up at the shop any more. "The 
best labor card is a good bunker/' they say. And they are really 
setting themselves up good bunkers. Leave it to them. They know 
what they're about. No Aktion ever gets them. They even manage 
to wriggle out of the Dulag.* 

Vevke tosses one completed shoe after another into the basket. 
No slowing up for him, Bergson observes. As if he meant to 
bolster up the tottering walls of the shoe shop with his own two 
shoulders. Twenty years they lived as neighbors in the same 
house, and in all that time he never got to know the greatness of 
Vevke the man. He first saw it the day the Germans drove all the 
Jews of their street out of their homes. They were all wailing 
and weeping and tearing at their hair. But Vevke first he sent 
his wife and five sons on ahead. Then he took the cobblers* table 
on his shoulder and the tool kit in his other hand. On the thresh- 
old of the house he stopped, set the tool kit on the ground, 
reached Ms hand to the mezuzah,* * brushed his glue-caked finger- 
tips over it and kissed them, abruptly bent and took hold of the 
tool kit, and stepped from the home where he had passed more 
than half his life; where his children's cribs had stood; where 
he'd earned his bread with honest sweat; where every nook and 
corner was precious to him. 

He walked away from the house without once looking back. 

Through the street streamed wailing throngs of young and 
old. At that time it seemed that being driven out of your home 
was the greatest calamity. Vevke walked straight ahead, tight- 
lipped, his greasy overalls shiny with use, the cobblers* table 
high on his shoulder, spreading cheer and courage to his right 
and to his left: "J ews > no tears! The butchers are having them- 
selves a show, a pox and a plague take theml For pity's sake, 
Jews, don't be giving them any treats!" 

And the fact that he, Bergson, now sits in the shoe shop is also 

* Dulag, or Durchgangs-lager: point outside the ghetto, where Jews were 
taken to be picked up by the transports. 

** Mezuzah; tiny scroll of certain excerpts from the Bible, set in containers 
on the doorposts of most Jewish homes. 

58 



thanks to Vevke. Others would have given a mint to get them- 
selves in here. 

Vevke tosses one completed shoe after another into the basket. 
He works full steam. As if he meant to finish off the whole stock 
single-handed so the Germans shouldn't liquidate the shoe shop. 
In the old days this place was a hell hole. Schultze hobbled among 
the tables all day. Everyone worked at a sizzling pace. The 
rooms were jammed beyond capacity. Then, no one dared stop 
for even a moment's breath. Oh, but to have those days back 
again! Then, you knew that here, at least, you were safe from 
being transported. Now even the "screwturners" don't show up any 
more. It's a bad omen. And Schultze's staying away from the 
workrooms certainly bodes no good. Now there's plenty of room 
at the cutting tables, and the white patches of light between one 
worker's shoulder and his neighbor's cast a pall of fear. What 
will tomorrow bring? How will this "festiveness" end up? Mean- 
while the pilgrimage to the attic proceeds as usual. Penniless 
cobblers gorge themselves on delicacies such as they could never 
dream of before the war. People sell the last stitch off their bodies. 
They splurge down to their last penny. No one worries about 
later, for no one knows whether he will have a later. No one 
thinks of tomorrow's bread, for no one knows whether hell be 
around to buy bread tomorrow; whether he won't be dragged 
out of bed during the night If so, why scrimp? To whom are they 
going to will it? Better hurry up to the attic, then, and buy cheese- 
cake, beer, roast goose, and cyanide. 

CYANIDE- 

The dearest item in the canteen is cyanide. Whoever has cya- 
nide in his pocket knows he can go ahead and eat cheesecake. 

Almost everyone in the ghetto is a solitary leftover now with- 
out children, parents, without family. Everyone left in the ghetto 
has suddenly come into a fortune, become a man of property. 
Everyone is inheriting clothing, linen, housewares of deported 
relatives. Hardly have you managed to eat up the inheritance 
of one relative when you learn youVe come into the property 
of another relative. What a bounty of relatives! Before, you 
couldn't get a thing out of them. Not only that, they never stopped 

59 



griping about why you're not helping them. One and all a bunch 
of paupers. Now you go dragging the leftover baggage from 
their hovels and groan under the load a twofold groan: half for 
the heavy load, half for the deported relative. 

And you drag some more. 

There's nothing the Christians won't buy from the Jews nowa- 
days: linen, bedding, kitchenware. Everything. The residents of 
the nearby Aryan streets suddenly went on a buying spree: "Bar- 
gains" of deported Jews! They heard that after liquidating the 
Jews in the ghettos, the Germans grab everything for them- 
selves. Even a used baby buggy is a high-premium item. They 
don't leave a thing behind. Send everything to their families in 
Germany. So, the Poles hurry to beat the Germans to it, "Bar- 
gains!" Allfrom the intelligentsia to the masses greedily await 
the ghetto traders. Their eyes are hungrily glued to the locked 
ghetto gates. They are ready to pay anything for the ^argains.^ 
Even more than they are worth. A craze has seized the Aryan 
streets: "Bargains"! A contagious disease. An epidemic that 
doesn't by-pass a single house. At the last moment of their lives, 
destitute cobblers have suddenly become tycoons. Like a person 
in a dying coma suddenly, at the final moment, opening clear, 
conscious eyes, as though he has just brought back from some- 
where a brand-new life. 

But the cobblers know what is going to happen to them in the 
moment to come. So they make for the cheesecake in the attic. 

In the shoe shop, the people suddenly became aware of the 
material they were using for making the shoes. More than once 
does the furious clatter of a sewing machine dribble off as if 
joining its operator in thought. While sewing, the operator noticed 
that the "mate" now sliding from under the machine needle is 
cut from striped trousers such as he is now wearing on his own 
body. And at the cutting table, someone will suddenly stop, his 
knife point not quite touching the neatly arranged cloth stack. 
A shudder suddenly ran through him when he placed his other 
hand on the stack and felt the material under his open palm. 
As though he were now resting his hand on a human shoulder 
with the knife blade poised in his other hand. The blade is sus- 

60 



pended just over the material. In a second he will plunge the 
knife in full force. The blade will sink deep, deep. Pierce another 
jacket Another jacket. Another jacket And cut . . . cut . . . 

He can't 

Passing the doorway of the rag room, the pile of old clothes 
insinuates itself into the corner of his eye. All at once> it seems as 
though people like himself are lying there, like everybody else 
working here. His footsteps waver, halt. The people seem to be 
calling him to lie down together with them on the pile. That's 
where he belongs anyway. 

His feet give. He can't move another step. His throat feels 
choking dry. Where had he meant to go? There's nothing he 
wants any more. There is no more strength for wanting. Suddenly 
his hand startsr trembling. He wants to reach out, hold on to 
something, save himself. His choking breath now quivers in the 
palm of his hand. If there were now in the palm of his hand the 
bit of white cyanide he would be able to go on breathing. Only 
the quivering bit of cyanide can free him from the fear cutting 
off his breath. Cyanide! Only that can give him the strength to 
go on living. All at once his feet tear away from the spot 

Another cobbler has made for the attic. 

"See how those shoe-fakers of mine have flown the coop!" 
Vevke booms at the empty benches. "All we need now is for 
Schultze to pop inP 

He rears up from his seat and heads for the attic. 

When Vevke got there, he suddenly halted, hand on the ban- 
ister, foot poised on the stair next to the last He could not move 
another step. The former pain, the grief for his two missing 
sons, carne back in all its intensity when he saw Daniella standing 
at the attic entrance waiting for the door to open. He forgot why 
he had come. He went up to her, as if this had been the reason 
for his coming, took her by the arm and silently walked her down 
the stairs. 

She let him lead her. Neither resisting nor acquiescing. She 
moved mechanically, as in a daze. Vevke found no word to still 
the pain devouring his heart He did not scold her or try to con- 
sole her. He kept silent 

61 



His guiding hand exuded plain goodness, simple love of fellow 
man. As when a person lifts a bird out of a trap, caresses it ? wants 
to heal it, but doesn't know how. 

On returning to the shoe shop, Vevke suddenly remembered 
why he had left in the first place and rushed right back to the 
attic. 



62 



Chapter 6 



Daniella was ripping the seams of a summer coat. The color of 
the silken material was light The twilight sun glared blindingly 
through the rag-room window, and the seam rippers' knives 
seemed to be smeared with blood, Harry sat beside her. She was 
teaching him seam ripping. 

"See, Harry? Watch. You put a foot on one end of the garment 
like this and the other end you hold fast under your left arm. 
With the fingers of the left hand you stretch the garment tight 
like " She was about to say "like a violin," but she immediately 
swallowed the word. She didn't want to remind him of his be- 
loved violin which he used to hold this way. She quickly said 
"like something tight And the knife in your right hand you draw 
lightly back and forth, back and forth over the taut seam. Get 
it, Harry?" 

"It's not so hard to understand/* he said. 

She moved closer to him. It was good to feel him so near. 

"I always wished we could work together," she said. '"Sitting 
by the rag heap I always used to wish you were sitting beside me. 
Why should you be in one shop and I in another? Why couldn't 
we work together? Hundreds of people work here. Why shouldn't 
you be one of them? Tell me, Harrik, isn't it wonderful to be 
sitting together?" 

Harry's head was bowed over the garment he was ripping. 
He appeared to be completely engrossed in his work. He didn't 
answer. 

63 



"Doesn't it feel good?" she repeated. 

He didn't look up from his work. "Lower your voice/' he said. 
"They can hear every word. Is talking allowed here?" 

"Why not? Here there's freedom. Complete freedom. Here 
Vevke is boss." She said it as if this were a factory belonging to 
her father. 

The knives were smeared with the blood of the red sunset. As 
though it were live arteries they were cutting. The sun streamed 
in like a gigantic red floodlight. Daniella wondered at her being 
able to look straight through the light beam at the sun without 
being blinded. As a rule, she had only to lift her eyes just a little 
to the sun and they would immediately smart with pain. Now 
the sun was wan, cold, as if cut out of tinsel. This is the first time 
in her life she has ever looked right at the sun. She felt as though 
she were seeing into the sky; as if she had conquered the fiery sun. 

"Harry, see the sun? Now you can see what it really looks like, 
in all its nakedness." 

"That's no sun; that's a hoax," he said. He didn't raise his eyes. 
As if it were not worth his looking. 

"To you everything is a hoax. You don't believe in anything 
any more." 

He didn't answer. She was amazed how quickly he was ripping. 

"Harry," she said, "from now on I won't believe either. I won't 
believe a thing any more. They said you were deported in a 
transport. So how can you be sitting here with me? From now on 
I'm not believing anything either." 

Harry didn't look up from his work. He said: 

"You can't be 'deported' any more. It's the same everywhere." 

She didn't understand what he was saying. But lately she'd 
been used to hearing him say things she didn't understand. She 
didn't ask him to explain now, either. She thought: Maybe he 
really was deported, but on the way he jumped the train. StecM- 
man, of Heller's second court, also jumped the transport train and 
made it back to the ghetto with four bullets in his body. Maybe 
Harry was also shot while escaping, but isn't letting on. He never 
tells anything. Such things are really better untold. He should 
only not let it slip to anyone! He's become so devil-may-care late- 

64 



ly. When she first learned he'd been deported, she tried to console 
herself with the thought that he might jump the train, like Steckl- 
man. She had a feeling he would. It was her only hope. It was 
what enabled her to go on living. 

"I was going to buy cyanide/* she said. "They sell it at our can- 
teen. Don't you ever go up there! Promise, Harrik?" 

"Go up there? What for! It's just some more fraud. They're only 
out to bilk you. Everything is fraud. Even the death they carry." 

"What do you mean? I don't understand a word you're saying." 

"Why don't you understand?" he snapped. "These days a man 
has no way of knowing if he's already in the hereafter, or if he 
still has to wait for death. Everything is mixed up. Life and death 
in one brew. A hereafter that's not here not after. Fraud and hoax. 
What's so hard to understand?" 

He spoke rapidly and harshly. There was something queer 
about it She knew she had written these same words in her diary; 
but hearing them now from Harry she somehow couldn't seem to 
make sense out of them. Suddenly she suspected Harry had read 
what she had written in the diary and was now mocking her 
words. The words irk him, that's why he's so mad at her. He al- 
ways used to bawl her out when she talked to him about death. 

She was too embarrassed to tell him off for having looked into 
her diary without permission. It dawned on her that only Fella 
could have shown him the diary. Fella's bed is near the window, 
and Fella sees her tucking the notebook into the slot between the 
sill and the cooling box. Another one of Fella's pranks. She didn't 
want to be mad at Harry now. It would be a shame to spoil the 
wonderful feeling of sitting beside him. Just remembering the 
moment she was told he'd been deported was enough to put her 
in seventh heaven at their being together. 

The light seam thread of the silken raincoat snapped like little 
nuts under the knife blade. The split thread on both sides of the 
seam looked like two rows of tiny bared teeth. 

Harry turned his head to her. 

"Let me show you a neater trick," he said, and with both hands 
began pulling at a paper-wrapped package in his trouser pocket. 
The package came out with difficulty. She looked at the protrad- 

65 



ing end of the package and was sure it was bread he had brought 
for her. She was about to tell him she would under no circum- 
stances eat the bread, he'd better remember that when he finally 
got it out, unwrapped it, and lifted out the dilapidated man's shoe 
of the Oswiencim girl. She wondered whether it was the same 
shoe or its mate which Harry had brought along with him escap- 
ing from Auschwitz. Harry clutched the toe of the shoe with both 
hands and ripped the upper off the sole. Suddenly it looked as 
though he were holding open the jaws of a crocodile. The two 
rows of white wooden pegs looked like jagged teeth in the croco- 
dile's maw. It didn't faze her at all. She wanted to tell him so, 
when Schultze suddenly came hobbling rapidly toward them, 
aiming the tip of his cane at Harry's face. The rubber tip circled 
over Harry's face like a wasp with drawn stinger about to alight 
on its victim. When the cane tip finally settled on Harry's face, 
between the two eyes, Schultze screeched, "From Auschwitz the 
shoe came and to Auschwitz it will return! But together with you, 
my dear. Off to Gestapo now. But quick! . . ." 

She felt Harry's fingers pressing her hand. He pulled her after 
him and they raced down the stairs into the big shoe storeroom. 
They hid behind the high wooden shelves where the shoes were 
lined up row upon row. The shafts of setting sun blazed through 
the window and glared in their eyes. Daniella knew that soon 
their pursuers would be looking for them here. They'll be spotted, 
but they won't be able to see their pursuers because of the blind- 
ing sun. She had sinned against the sun before. She had imagined 
she had conquered it. That's why the sun is taking it out on her 
now. She was about to ask Harry why he had to go and pry open 
the Auschwitz shoe and turn it into a crocodile's maw. It only in- 
furiated the Germans, But just then, Harry whispered into her 
ear, as if to justify himself: *T11 go on tearing the shoe's maw or 
it will swallow me alive. Do you want it to devour me as it did 
Ferber? I won't let it. I'm stronger than they!" 

Beyond the open door black-uniformed Germans were stomp- 
ing up the stairs to the workrooms. Daniella knew it was for them 
they were coming. Her knees began quaking. Harry looked at 
her. She wanted to calm down but couldn't quell the trembling 

66 



of her knees. As though some outside force were shaking them 
from within. The sun poured red sheaves of light in among the 
shoes arrayed on the shelves, and they looked like marching ranks 
of feet wading in blood, maybe the Germans will go easier on 
them if they give themselves up. And as if in reply to her thought, 
Harry opened the window and they jumped out. They ran across 
the road toward the woods. Heavily armed Germans on motor- 
cycles whizzed up and down the road. They were now on the 
Aryan side, where a Jew mustn't be seen. They were outside the 
ghetto. Harry ripped the yellow star off his jacket. Seeing Daniella 
vacillating, he reached out and ripped the shame-sign off her 
breast. The spot where the star had been stood out, unf aded. The 
dark points of the Star of David showed clearly. She wanted to 
cry for fear. 

They ran through the thicket. The thick underbrush entangled 
their feet and hampered their flight. She knew the Germans were 
bearing down on them. The pricldy shrubs stung and scratched 
her face. She couldn't run any more. Her feet became like at- 
tached blocks of wood which she now had to lug as she ran. 
"Buck up! Buck up! If you can't run now it'll be all over with 
you! . . " Harry shouted as he ran. She fell behind him. She felt 
her strength draining. 

"Run, Harry, save yourself!" she cried. She felt the Germans 
were near. 

"Keep going! For pity's sake, don't let yourself think. If you 
can't run without thinking you'll be finished!" he shouted back 
to her. 

. . . Yablova woods! How did the Yablova woods get here? 
She's in Metropoli!? Among the trees, not far from her, German 
is being spoken. She clearly hears Germans speaking. Where 
should she run? Who will let her in? In the Polish hut where she 
had fled from Yablova market place, the Pole's teeth, tongue, and 
open mouth barked into her eyes: "Kike? Beat it! Scram! . . ." 
The shrubs pricked her face. She ran. Ran. With her last wind. 
Ran, ran. "Kike? Beat it! Scram! . . " 

Where is Harry? She no longer saw him near her. Her feet 
dragged like huge stones from both sides of her body. She could 

67 



no longer carry their dead weight. "Beat it! . . , Beat it! . . " 
The stone feet dragged her down, down. She slumped to the 
ground. She felt herself sinking into a deep pit. Suddenly she 
felt the ground beneath her. She saw her feet lying outside, on 
the surface of the ground. She heard the approach of the Germans 
but she lay rooted to the ground. She was unable to dislodge her- 
self. The footsteps drew nearer, nearer. As though they were 
tramping right by her ears. She raised her he&dSchultze! He 
seemed to be swooping down at her out of the sky. The black 
Gestapo cap on his head gives him an air of grim festiveness. He 
aims the black pellet at the tip of his cane directly at her eyes. 
The cane stretches ever longer, until it is outlandishly long. 
Schultze stands at the other end of the outstretched cane. His face 
is cruelly studious. He doesn't say a word. Just stretches the cane 
toward her face, searching for a good spot on which to set the 
rubber tip. She knows Schultze is preparing to inflict a horrible 
death on her. She strains with all her might but cannot move. 
She screams but the screams don't come out of her throat. The 
tip of the cane looms nearer, larger. Her eyes are in a frozen gape. 
She can't clamp them shut. Any moment and the tip will plunge 
deep into them. It will suck out the last drop of her blood. 
Schultze's face is cruelly studious. She reaches out to wrench the 
cane away. But the cane is ungraspable. Like air. . . . It's useless 
trying to save herself. No one will come to her rescue here. Her 
screams don't come out of her throat. "I/ you cant run if II be all 
over with you! . . ? Suddenly she saw Harry standing bound in 
the white silken raincoat she had ripped in the rag room that 
morning. The Germans grab hold of him and force him to look 
and see what Schultze is about to do to her. Harry collapses. He 
faints. She started screaming: "Harry! Harry! Harry!" 

A full moon was framed in the window. Everything was cast 
with a cold, silvery light. Daniella didn't know where she was. 
She felt her neck clamped between her own fingers. She thought 
she was still lying in Yablova woods. Her screams still rang in 
her ears. Had she really screamed? She couldn't make out the 

68 



Center. She didn't recognize the room in which she lay. A pale 
shaft o light reached from the moon directly into her eyes cold, 
rigid, vampiric. Like Schultze's outstretched cane. Her hands 
were clammy. Her body was drenched in cold sweat. She was 
afraid to move. But when she sidled her eyes about the room, she 
saw the Oswiencim girl returning to her bed with the black man's 
shoe hugged to her heart. 

Daniella wanted to call out to the girl and ask her i she had 
heard her cries for help. But her mouth wouldn't open. 

From the beds around her rose a loud snoring. The flowers on 
Hayim-IdFs Spanish wall were bathed in the frigid light of the 
moon. The dream now unwound before her eyes like a segment 
of life embalmed in the dark celluloid of a film reel. The film 
unwinds, and the embalmed life is condemned once more to live 
a life borrowed as the frigid light of the moon. The dreamed 
springs at you to possess you anew and within you again live a 
borrowed life. 

The moonbeam crept slowly up the tile stove. The white 
tiles returned the moon a lurid glare. 

Everything now seemed inescapable, past all hope. Mute tears 
ran from her eyes. She felt like a pariah, hounded day and night 
Crushed, forlorn, with no one to help. The realities of day are no 
better than the nightmares at night 

She heard the patter of footsteps on the cobblestones in the 
yard. She didn't know what time it was. It was the night toward 
Sunday a bleak, prospectiess Sunday, a night o utter despair. 
A lunar night white and terrifying as cyanide; pale and hollow 
as the vampiric light of the moon. She sat up and started dress- 
ing. Everything happening in the ghetto could no longer be 
stopped or undone. Only the "dot" due to emerge Sunday from 
behind the big mountain gnawed relentlessly at the heart and 
glimmered illusively in her mind, like the illusory light of the 
moon. The thought that she would soon be standing in the soup- 
compound watching the "dot" approach, coiled about her heart 
like a viper, and coursed into her bloodstream like its white 
venom, 

69 



She tried to untangle the knotty laces of her high sport- 
boots. Reesha Meyerchik had exactly the same shoes. They 
had ordered them together at the same store. When they were 
fleeing from Yablova market she had no idea Reesha was shot. 
Reesha kept pace with her as they ran, sometimes even getting 
ahead of her. It was only when they got to the woods that she 
noticed Reesha's blood trailing on the ground. There wasn't a 
single hut into which she was permitted to bring the shot girl. 
Just one old man took pity on her and pointed to Izzy the tin- 
smith's closed workshop: "Better yell for him in Yiddish," he said. 
"Knock for him to open. Maybe the Germans haven't killed him 
yet." 

Off in a hidden corner of the workshop, the tinsmith and his 
wife lay on the floor behind a pile of scrap iron and rusty tin 
sheets. His face also looked Hke a rusty scrap of tin. He turned to 
his wife and said, "A Jewish girl is bleeding to death in Yablova 
woods . . ." The woman gazed up at her husband's head from 
the floor. Her eyes cried mute protest over the futility of her life 
and her husband's life which he now intends to throw over. She 
did not answer. *Tm going," the tinsmith said. She gazed up at his 
head and said nothing. 

Daniella heard footsteps hurrying over the cobblestones down 
in the yard. Stecklman jumped the train. Maybe Harry did, 
too. Maybe when she goes out to the soup compound as usual 
she'll suddenly see him coming to her. The image of Harry 
swathed in white floated up before her eyes. What is this thing 
which keeps coming up in her dreams? What does it signify? 
From now on she'll draw the curtain on the window on moonlit 
nights. Dreams! Oh you cold, vampiric night mirrors, set over 
against our lived days like the moonshine opposite the sun; 
mirrors which suck the pith from the seeds implanted in our fate 
and reflect it back at us on a night of moon shrewish as an old 
hag a gossip monger; so by night the dreams sough into our 
ears the weaving rumors of our destiny, "It's all a dream," Harry 
had said. Was his deportation to a labor camp also just a dream? 
Will she really suddenly hear Daddy's whistle waking her for 
school? Or is it just that the blinds of her room are not drawn 

70 



now, and that's why the moon is enmeshing her this way in its 
silvery web? 

She went down to the gate. 

II 

Night withdrew across the sky like a foe from conquered land, 
leaving ruin, mourning, and casualties in its wake. 

One by one the pallid shadows emerged from the three courts 
toward the gate. She saw and didn't see them coming; this time 
she was one o them. Like them, she came down here because of 
the calamity which had driven her from bed. The same calamity. 
The same grief. They will run out frenziedly : maybe they can still 
help. And she will run out like them: maybe Harry will come 
from the fields. She is now standing among them, one of many 
and exactly like them. She looks at them and doesn't see them, 
just as they look at her and don't see her. She knows if s crazy: 
Harry isn't coming! She'll never see him again! But she doesn't 
want to believe it. The others also know their running is useless. 
They'll never see their loved ones again. It's always that way: 
dragged from the house in the dead of night, and never seen 
again. It's always that way, but nobody wants to believe it. 

The militiamen haven't looked in lately to see if the illegals 
are all sleeping at the Center. The militiamen are busy nights 
hauling people from their beds. Queer that they should still let 
the "illegals" stay at the Center. TUegals"! The word sounds like 
some diabolic joke. Who isn't illegal nowadays? The whole ghetto 
is like a burning ship far at sea. Harry the "legal," the "secure" 
one has gone to his doom; she the THegaF is still around. 
When a fire breaks out in prison, the secure ones, those waiting 
to go free, perish; those condemned to death save themselves. 
Today they are deporting workers from "nonwar-essentiaF fac- 
tories. Till just a short while back these workers felt so snug and 
secure, and now they are in the death camps. But she, the 
"illegal," is still permitted to sleep in her bed, because she has a 
labor card from the Labor Commissioner's shoe shop. Death is a 
blind reaper. Never misses. It's all the same to him who falls first 

71 



and who falls later. But the heads that are left outside his swath 
a while they imagine death has deliberately by-passed them. 
Just as Zalke put it: "The ghetto is like a sack full of seeds, The 
German reaches into the sack now and then and grabs himself a 
fistful Any seeds that slip between his fingers, get a bit of a re- 
prieve . . ." They say all is quiet in Kongressia ghetto now. The 
ghetto is sealed tight as a nailed-up crate. Everybody works in 
one big shop. Daddy and Mommy are probably living with a lot 
of other families in one room. Their bed must be off in a corner, 
like Fella's bed here. And Momwith a yellow star against his 
heart. Maybe Daddy has also fixed himself some sort of "villa" 
like Hayim-Idl's, and they live there in a private corner of their 
own. Daddy always liked to have his shaving kit ready in the bath- 
room on the blue marble shelf under the mirror. Where does he 
keep it now? If he has a window, he probably puts it on the sill. 
There is no window in Hayim-IdTs "villa." Wonder why Hayim- 
Idl didn't put up his "villa" in the corner by the fireplace. Then 
his "villa" would also have a window. 

The cobblestones in the first court glisten as though freshly 
scrubbed. Must have rained during the night. How come she 
didn't notice day breaking? She had been sitting there wide awake 
looking at the window all the time. Right here the man with the 
JUDE branded on his brow had lain. The Judenrat deported Shla- 
mek together with his mother, because both were living off the 
soup-kitchen. Good thing Shlamek went with his mother. Hell be 
able to take care of her, there. The woman had been very sick to- 
ward the end. If she herself had been deported with Harry, she'd 
have gone gladly. Harry had looked very bad lately. If she knew 
where he was, she'd volunteer to go there on the next transport 
Mrs. Heller is already on guard over the remainder of her bookcase. 
All day long she's at the window, watching the remnants of the 
case by the fence. The doors were stolen off long ago, but from 
within, the memory of her two sons still glimmers at her. 

In a corner of the third court is Vevke's ramshackle hovel. From 
here the hovel resembles a hen roosting up on a ladder in the 
dark. Before the war the janitor had put it together from some 

72 



broken planks, for a tool shed. The place wasn't meant for more 
than that 

How did she get here? She didn't even feel her feet taking her. 
Why has she come here? The rising morning contemplated the 
miserable planks of the hovel and the sagging roof, the way, 
in the ghetto after an Aktion, they contemplate an abandoned 
child whom the Germans have forgotten to include on the trans- 
port with her parents. She felt so tired. She was standing near a 
pile of refuse and scrap that had been cleared out of the houses 
to make room for the people. She sat down on the edge of a 
broken stove useless, discarded. Suddenly, she also felt like a 
piece of useless, unwanted scrap thrown out to the garbage. 
Everything around her, useless: the new day coining up ? the sky, 
the earth all meaningless, futile. Junk thrown out to the garbage. 

A yearning seized her. An incoherent yearning. She didn't know 
for what, whom. She was terribly lonely. She wanted the door of 
the hovel to open, someone to come out of there, take her inside. 
She so wanted someone's breast to cry on, to feel the nearness of 
a human being. A human being. To see a warm look in human 
eyes. Why is she going to the fields now? Harry won't be coming. 
The pain of his not coining frightened her. She wanted for some- 
one devoted and understanding not to let her go to the fields, to 
hold her back. It's all so hopeless. She wanted for someone to 
console her, and she wanted to have the feeling of refusing to be 
consoled. 

That time, when Tedek was deported, she didn't feel this way. 
She first sees it now. But Vevke must have felt then the way she 
feels now. And she never had the thoughtfulness even once to 
come to Vevke and share his grief. Tedek's family probably hastf t 
forgiven her this. She knows they blame her for Tedek's going out 
of the ghetto. How can she expect them to feel sorry for her now? 
Why didn't she ever come here before at dawn to sit on this trash 
heap? Why only now that Harry has been deported? 

In a rotting baby's shoe lying on the ground by her feet, a tall 
green blade of grass pushed through a rent in the sole. The rising 
sun gilded the dewdrops on the leaf and they glittered like jewels. 

73 



Hurrying footsteps sounded from the street. She started up. 
She went to the gate. Already there was no one there. 

Ill 

The soup-kitchen compound was deserted. The little soup-win- 
dow was boarded up. There was no sign that soup had ever 
been distributed here. Not a trace was left of the people who had 
once partaken of the soup here. But the house was still called 
"Judenrat Free Soup Kitchen." 

Lonely and forlorn she stood at the edge of the compound. 
Every corner here reminded her of Harry. The air was full of the 
memory of him. But there was no more Harry. She had no idea 
what German labor camp was; that no one knew. But everyone 
did know what Germans were. Maybe at this very moment Harry 
is standing somewhere working till he collapses. She could not 
endure the thought, but there was no escaping it. 

The fields were empty; the mountain, mute and desolate. A 
gnawing yearning rippled across the fields from the mountain to 
her heart, from her heart to the mountain. She knew Harry would 
not be coming any more. But her eyes did not give up watching: 
any moment now, any instant, and a little dot will appear there . . . 
Thousand times a moment she felt the tingling of Harry's coming, 
and thousand times a moment the disappointment of his not 
coming twinged in her heart. 

She couldn't bear to stand in the empty compound any more. 
An irresistible force drew her to the opposite side of the mountain, 
from where Harry used to come and from where he would never 
come again. She could no longer contain the storm within her. 

She started to run. 



IV 



She did not see the mountain. The closer she got to it the more 
it melted before her eyes. Jew-Quarter 3 gradually disappeared 
behind her. At close range everything here looked different The 
sun poured its yellow light into the jaundiced crevices of the 

74 



jagged mountain slope. Many foot-worn paths wound here. Every 
granule o sand breathed the intimacy of Harry's footsteps. She 
felt the footsteps. She could touch them with her hands. 

Across the fields the first hovels of Jew-Quarter 1 began to ap- 
pear. On the left stretched the railroad tracks. They gleamed in 
the sun like silvery stripes on dark cloth in the rag room. Far, far 
off a lone locomotive, big as a toy, smoked near two trees. 

She was running. 

All this time, she had managed only twice to get to Harry's 
home. When Abram the trader had good customers and it paid 
him to bribe the militia secretary for a one-trip transit pass for 
Daniella, so she could smuggle his goods across to Jew-Quarter 1 
under her wide raincoat Daniella jumped at the chance, not for 
the money, but for the few minutes she would be able to spend 
at Harry's. 

As Daniella now opened the door to Harry's room, everything 
suddenly seemed strange, unrecognizable, as if she had stumbled 
into a wrong address. She saw Ferber's eyes raised toward her 
from where he was sitting. He came toward her to the door, and 
without a word took her by the arm, led her to the chair, the way 
you lead a person who seems about to faint He sat her down. Her 
arrival here now seemed self-explanatory. 

A mournful stillness hung in the room. Sanya was sitting on a 
wooden cot, facing Harry's empty bed. There was no spread on 
the bed. It was made up, as though awaiting his return from the 
night shift A white emptiness showed from beyond the back- 
folded corner of the blanket Sanya sat facing the empty whiteness 
and did not take her eyes off it 

The room was bare. The furniture was all gone. The cupboard, 
the beds everything had been sold for bread. Stark, stripped 
walls. Just a rickety little table in the corner and an old iron stove 
with a broken-off pipe. On a long nail protruding from the door- 
post hung Harry's coat, the coat in which he used to come to her. 
Over the coat hung his hat He had apparently gone to work 
without hat and coat, and hatiess and coatiess was taken away. 

She wanted to run up to the coat and hug it A sleeve hung from 
the shoulder full, round, alive. The end of the sleeve was limp, 

75 



empty. But it still seemed to her she could see Harry's white hand 
there. She wanted to run over and grasp the sleeve like a live 
hand. Harry . . . Harry . . . But Sanya's rigid shoulders, her 
stony gaze rooted to the empty bed, froze her to the spot. 

It was almost a week that Harry was gone, and the room still 
seemed as though a dead body were lying on the ground, the soul 
flitting into all the corners, resting on every object. The melan- 
choly, brooding stillness lingered in the room as though the pain 
were here to stay for all eternity. Sanya was dressed in her blue 
overalls, her hair tidily combed back, but her face was like a wax- 
en mask. 

. . . she could never have pictured Sanya looking like this. God 
knows what she's decided to do to herself. That moment she for- 
got that she herself had stood at the door of the shoe-shop attic. 
The lifeless expression on Sanya's face made her forget about 
herself. Now in Harry's room, it suddenly struck her for the first 
time: Maybe the deportees aren't killed after all ... What will 
happen when Harry comes home and hears what happened to 
Sanya? Vevke, too, keeps insisting that Tedek will come back. 
Wholl take care of Sanya now? 

Ferber sat immersed in thought, his eyes fixed on the ground, 
not saying a word. Maybe he and Sanya were discussing some- 
thing before she came, but her sudden appearance revived the 
memory of Harry and stirred up the pain in all its intensity. Now 
Ferber was silent, like one who can find no word of condolence 
for the bereaved whose deceased still lies before him. 

The ache of smothered tears now wept from the depleted walls. 
Heavy sorrow draped Sanya's shoulders. How long is it since the 
whole family sat around the table in Kongressia? The whole house 
used to ring with Sanya's gay laughter. In the next Aktion they're 
liable to deport her, the way it happens to all wives of deported 
men. Wholl look after Sanya now? Who will take care of her? 

Sanya got up. She went over to the window. The blinds were 
drawn all the way. All the houseware now lay there. She unrolled 
a white napkin. Inside were wrapped half a bread and a knife. 
She spread the napkin on the table before Daniella, and said: 

"Eat, Dani~" 

76 



Danieila raised her eyes to her. "Eat, Dani . . ? She could 
no longer hold back. Just the way Harry had spoken to her* She 
threw her arms around Sanya's waist and burst into bitter crying. 

Sanya stood motionless. She just pressed Daniella's head to her 
belly. The weeping intensified. It seemed to be coming out of 
Sanya's belly. It was a mutual weeping over one and the same 
person whom both, each in her own way, loved more than all else 
in the world. 

Sanya stood motionless. 

"Harry will come back, Sanya, The war will end . . ? 

Sanya raised DanieHa's head to her with both hands. They 
were in clinging embrace Danieila sitting, Sanya standing. Out 
of Daniella's eyes Harry's blue glance looked up at her. Not just 
the eyes; all of Daniella's face now evoked Harry: the same chis- 
eled mouth, the same twin white rows of teeth, the identical 
shadow between the lower lip and chin. 

"Harry will soon be coming home," Sanya said softly. 

"You mean it, Sanya?" Danieila started up. "You really mean it?" 

"I've had a promise. Tm waiting." 

"Is there really a chance that Harry will be coining back before 
the end of the war? You're not just saying it to make me feel bet- 
ter? Who promised?" 

Sanya tried to evade the question. She went on looking into 
Daniella's blue eyes. Her lips whispered, "Everything is possible, 
my baby. Everything is possible. If Harry doesn't come to me, 
m come to him." 

The sudden quiver of Daniella's body between her hands jolted 
Sanya as out of a trance. The words she had just uttered suddenly 
reached her ears. She wished she could unsay them. Ferber also 
looked up from the floor. Sanya tore herself away, smoothed the 
wrinkled napkin on the table and picked up a glass to bring Dan- 
ieila some tea. 

"Which way did you come, Daniella?" she asked. 

"Same way Harry used to come to me every Sunday." 

"Harry never went without a transit pass forged, but still a 
slip of paper to show! Why do you take such risks? Aren't things 
bad enough?" Deep anguish furrowed Sanya's face. 

77 



Ferber interjected, "The risks aren't always exactly where peo- 
ple think they are. Harry wasn't caught crossing from one Jew- 
Quarter to the other/* 

Sanya was walking toward the door with the glass in her hand. 
She meant to go to a neighbor to get Daniella die tea. But hear- 
ing Ferber's caustic remark, she stopped short, facing the door. 
She said, "You don't mean to suggest, do you, that Daniella should 
be roaming among the Jew-Quarters without a piece of paper." 

"I mean to suggest/' Ferber raised his head to Sanya's back, 
"tibiat Daniella should join the Kibbutz.* A big Aktion is brewing 
in the ghetto, and if I'm not mistaken it's going to be a girls* Ak- 
tion/' 

"Ferber!" Sanya wheeled around. "Daniella works in the Labor 
Commissioner's shoe shop. What could be safer? Lay off, Ferber, 
lay off!" 

Sanya went out to the corridor. Ferber lowered his head again, 
went back to staring at the floor, said no more. 

Daniella suddenly felt like someone eavesdropping on a con- 
versation about herself. The exchange between Ferber and Sanya, 
particularly the tone in which the words were spoken, seemed to 
her like a continuation, almost a play-back of a stormy debate 
which had been raging before she got here and had been momen- 
tarily interrupted only because of her arrival. 

Daniella didn't know too much about the "Kibbutz." What she 
did know was that this was a hush-hush word in the ghetto. She 
also knew that Tedek had belonged to the "Kibbutz" and that 
after his brother Menashe was killed in the Slavic Woods, Tedek 
never again so much as mentioned the word. And she knew that 
many who have no labor card are members of the "Kibbutz" and 
that these boys and girls had let the Judenrat know that they 
would resist with arms any attempt to transport them: "Well get 
in our shots at the Germans and the whole ghetto will go up in 
flames, Judenrat and all!" And as the grapevine has it, Monyek 
Matroz, head of the Judenrat, is afraid of this warning and reck- 
ons with it. 

Sanya returned to the room with a glass of steaming tea in her 

* Kibbutz: Hebrew term for commiraal settlement. 

78 



hand. Slie urged Daniella to eat and foarry back to her quarter, 
because noontime is best for sneaking over from one Jew-Quarter 
to the other. 

When Daniella stood by the door ready to leave, Ferber pulled 
a forged transit pass out of his pocket something to show, just in 
case and without a word handed it to her. 



79 



Chapter 7 



At the Center everybody was already asleep. After a back- 
breaking workday one collapses into bed in the evening the way, 
in the Gestapo torture cellar, one falls into the releasing arms of 
swoon. Sleep is but a brief respite during an unceasing siege of 
pain. Hardly does one manage to get one's eyes shut than night 
is over and one has to dash off to the shop again. 

Suddenly 

A battering at the house gate . . . 

In the ghetto, when there is a knocking at the gate at night, it 
reverberates in the heart as though a thousand alarm bells were 
heaving inside you. For it is death now knocking at the gate. And 
who knows whose soul he has come for this time? 

Fella is composed as ever. She placidly opens her eyes, looks 
around. On the beds right and left sit upsprung naked shoulders, 
terrified heads. Fella shuts her eyes again and snuggles up in the 
blanket as if all tibis were none of her concern. She has a good 
Special Card from the chief of the Judenrat Militia. She can go 
right back to sleep. It's not the likes of her they're after. 

Hanna and Tzivia, the two Chebin sisters, sit trembling on their 
beds. The danger has struck at them out of their sleep and is coil- 
ing itself about their drowsy, half-naked bodies with a well-known 
yet "unfamiliar terror. True, they also have labor cards, but not 
from a "war-essential" factory. Isn't it for them that they're now 
pounding at the gate? 

80 



Hayim-Idl in Ms white union suit scurries from window to win- 
dow, peeps out now around the coiner of this window, now around 
the corner of the other window. He doesn't know, and can't make 
up his mind, whether to wake the baby first or to stow her away 
some place while she's still asleep. Meanwhile, the seconds flash 
by and the minutes sharpen like knives before the eyes* Running 
feet on the yard cobblestones blare into his ears: "Someone has 
already gone to open the gate!" The news spreads throughout his 
whole being. The hair roots prick the skull like hot needles. The 
skin tightens and stiffens. Death is breathing down on it 

It's not about himself and his wife that Hayim-Idl is terrified. 
They both work in the shoe shop. But the heart convulses: What 
if this is a children's Aktion? 

At the mere thought that they're liable to take the baby away 
from him, the whites of his eyes bulge from their sockets. He shut- 
tles back and forth between the walls and doesn't know where to 
run, what to do. Every minute counts. The head is about to burst. 
Fear rapidly tosses idea after idea, plan after plan into the mind, 
piles them up like a growing scrap heap: Where to run? What to 
do next? What to do now? So he scurries from window to window, 
from corner to corner, and doesn't do a thing. 

His wife Dvortche, who has lately stopped hearing altogether, 
even when being shouted into the ear, seems, however, to have 
heard the knocking at the gate. For the knocking at the gate in the 
dead of night is heard not in the ears, but in the heart, with the 
bottom drop of blood in the veins. So she began pulling out all 
the forbidden goods concealed in the chest table the sheets of 
felt, the hatbands, the hats and hurled them all pellmell to the 
floor. Let the Germans take it all from her now! Let them punish 
her for it! She scoops up the sleeping infant, hugs it to her heart: 
Only don't let it wake up ... not let out a soundl She bends over 
the open chest, lays sweet little Bella carefully on the leftover felt 
pieces. She stands bent over the chest, as though she were gin- 
gerly laying her own heart there. Very slowly she closes the 
chest, spreads a tablecloth over it so it should again look like a 
table. She doesn't talk; just sways. Lips sealed, clenched and 
sways . , , 

81 



Hayim-Idl is in a dither. He looks on at Ms wife's actions and 
doesn't know how he can help her. His knees quake. With a con- 
vulsive foot he shoves the thrown-out felts lying on the floor into 
a corner, as though he didn't trust his own body to bend without 
keeling over. His lower jaw twitches, spits out words as if he had 
just chewed them: ". . . last . . . goods ... let it ... let it 
. . . ransom . . . take it, God . . . not my baby . . ." 

Daniella is sitting on her bed. Her head is full and empty. She 
looks about with petrified eyes: the bed of the Oswiencim girl is 
empty! . . . Just before night curfew she slipped out of the Cen- 
ter. No one even noticed that she hadn't comeback. The emptiness 
of her bed intensifies the fear. The lit candle in Hayim-IdFs "villa" 
gleams in the window with black, uncanny night Each blow at 
the gate comes running up to the foot of every bed like a herald 
come to announce the imminent arrival of a gruesome master. 
Daniella clenches her teeth to stop them from chattering, but 
she has no reason to be afraid! She has a labor card from the 
Labor Commissioner's own shoe shop! And Vevke won't leave 
her in the lurch! Still, fear is contagious, and chattering teeth 
won't be calmed by logic when there is pounding at the ghetto 
gate in the dead of night. 

On the bed opposite Daniella the two Chebin sisters sit huddled 
up against each other, like two hens out in a snowstorm, silent 
and shivering. 

Boots. Terrifying German boots stomping up the stairs. As 
though their hobnails were treading on the naked flesh. The door 
is being stormed. Hayim-Idl's look rolls out of his gaping eye- 
sockets, brushes over the narrow beds, and stops dead on the emp- 
ty bed of the Oswiencim girl. The door strains inward. Everyone 
is numb, paralyzed with fear. Never have the two door halves 
arched in this way, as if trying desperately to recoil from the 
German voices raging at them. Another moment and the door 
halves will burst open. Hayim-Idl's feet tear themselves free. He 
runs to open the door. 

Gestapo! Just behind fhemblue-white caps of Judenrat Militia. 

The Gestapoman is holding a list in his hands. Odd, death has 
ordinary hands, white, human hands 

82 



The Gestapoman reads names from the list: Fella, the Chebin 
sisters, the Oswiencim girl, Daniella . . . 

"On the double! Dress! Snap it up! . . * 

Fella whips the Special Card out of her coat and hands it to 
the militiaman; Must be some mistake how did her name get on 
such a list? 

"Here's my Special Card, signed and sealed by the militia chief,*' 
she states coolly, confidently. 

The Gestapoman snatches the card, rips it to shreds and throws 
them in Fella's face. 

"Snap to! Move! Quicker!" 

... no! She won't show her labor card now, Daniella quickly 
decides. The Gestapoman is liable to tear it up without even look- 
ing at it. How will she prove afterwards that she really works in 
the shoe shop? No, she mustn't let go of her labor card. Her whole 
life now depends on this yellow piece of paper with the red swas- 
tika stamp. She'll show it at militia headquarters. Better go along 
with the others now. But the knees tremble so. But why do the 
knees tremble so? The Gestapoman is watching. Better hurry up 
and dress. The fingers don't hold on to the clothes. Maybe Vevke 
will come tomorrow morning to get her out of the militia. After 
all she has to show up for work 

"Move! Move! On the double!" 

The Gestapoman gave Harma a prodding kick with his boot. 
Hanna wanted to take along her prayer book. Her sister Tzivia 
can't contain herself any more. The Gestapoman's roar contracts 
her bowels. The congested fear in her stomach bursts out in a 
stream of f eces. 

"Filthy shitbagsr 

Now of all times Daniella just can't seem to get her other foot 
into the shoe. The laces of the high sport boot are all knotted up. 
When she went to bed last night, she pushed it off her foot with- 
out unlacing it She was tired and was going to take care of it in 
the morning, before leaving for work. The pistol gleams black 
in the Gestapoman's white hand. If her fingertips don't stop trem- 
bling, she'll have to go with one bare foot. After all, she works 
in the shoe shop. Why is she so frightened? Calm Calm She 

83 



mustn't lose her head and forget to take along things she might 
need on the way. Actually she doesn't have anything. On top of 
the high tile stove are three filled notebooks of her diary, and 
in the slot between the cooling box and the wall is the last note- 
book. That's all she has. If Hayim-Idl could only run down now 
and tell Vevke they've come to take her to the labor camp, maybe 
Vevke could do something. After all, Vevke is the shoe-shop boss 

"Move! Quick! Scum!" 

And the "scum" four Jewish girls crowded to push out the 
open door. 

Hayim-Idl stands flattened against the wall. His white under- 
wear blends with the paleness of the wall. His face is yellow. His 
head looks like a waxwork head someone had hung on the wall. 
The head stares goggle-eyed at the black back of the Gestapoman 
plugging the whole doorway: Death has skipped him. Seems he's 
still alive. 

As she went out, Danaella threw toward Hayim-Idl's petrified 
head, "Tell Vevke . . ." 

Dvortche arched back over the chest, as though wishing to 
block her baby's hiding place from view. She is ready for any- 
thing now. Anything. Over her dead body will they take the child 
from her. Within her crouched a roused mother beast, but from 
without she looked like a length of white felt someone had hastily 
flung onto the chest, its end trailing down to the floor. 

Outside, a black ghetto night received them, took them into 
cold arms and led them off. 

Where? 

An odd fear mingled with curiosity seized Daniella the eternal 
curiosity to find out what it's like on the other side of one's life 
and one's fear while being led there. 

The tremor of a queer travel fever now throbbed deep in her 
subconscious. An echo of something was playing back in her 
heart . . . something familiar . . . something she had felt be- 
fore . . . the time she was getting ready for the first excursion 
in her life . . . 

Where is that school excursion now taking her? 

84 



II 

Outside, night blotted out the dark ghetto hovels. Huge search- 
lights were posted on the main street for the occasion of tonight's 
AMon. Their beams stabbed into the ghetto like blazing spears, 
spotlighting the fear. From side streets emerged blaclc shadows 
of Gestapomen with machine guns, leading cowering, trembling 
girls just dragged out of their beds. The girls had not hidden. 
They had felt immune. Why, they all have genuine labor cards 
exempting them from labor camp. 

The shoulders of the two Chebin sisters are oddly slouched. 
They walk ahead, with short, rapid steps, as though wanting to 
prove their obedience: They've been ordered to goand look, 
they're going. Fella and Daniella quicken their steps, so as not to 
lag. The Gestapoman, pistol in hand, sullenly walks behind them. 
From aU sides Germans and militiamen bark: "Step it up! On the 
double!" He doesn't get a chance to yell at them. 

Monyek Matroz, head of the Judenrat, comes dashing out of 
a dark alley, accompanied by a cortege of senior Judenrat officials 
and militia officers. He dashes out of the darkness, looking very 
preoccupied, vanishes once more into the darkness, and emerges 
again. It looks as though he were consorting with the night and 
were whispering to her in the dark. A long white sheet flashes in 
his hands: Not a girl is going to get out of his list tonight None 
other than he, the head man of the Judenrat, is running this Ak- 
tion. The main street gradually fills with batches of girls. Here 
and there a gate opens and the dark ghetto hovel discharges a 
fresh victim, escorted by Gestapo and militia. 

Ferber had said, **A major Aktion is brewing. If I'm not mis- 
taken itll be a girls' Aktion this time." 

Now it's dear: this is a girls' mght-Aktion. 

"But Daniella works at the Labor Commissioner's shoe shopr 
Sanya had answered. "What can be safer than that? 3 * 

How are you to know in the ghetto which is the light way? 

. . . she has already been led through these same dark streets. 
That was the night she got here, when Vevke saved her from the 
transport. Now she's again being led at night through those dark 

85 



streets. But this time away. Where? Where? What sort of place 
are all these people being led to? What do they do to them there? 
Why, this is a transport! She's being taken away to a transport 
now! Will Vevke be able to save her this time, too? Fella, always 
so cocksure, is also straggling along like a lost sheep. An alto- 
gether different Fella, Not like her at all. Maybe Vevke will hurry 
and put in a word for her. Tell them that she was a good worker 
in the shop. Never missed a day either. They can see for them- 
selves, in the roll books. Main thing is that Hayim-Idl should 
hurry and tell Vevke. Judging by his face, he didn't look as if he 
even understood what she said. 

Militiamen in blue-white caps march on either side of them. 
New victims axe constantly being brought out o bystreets. They 
are marched over the sidewalks; middle o the street; singly and 
in groups. The night winds itself about them and leads them off 
to the mysterious unknown. The blue-white caps on the militia- 
men's heads phosphoresce in the distance, under the yellow 
searchlight beams, like the eye whites of capering demons at the 
head of a mute night procession. 



Ill 



The militia compound was fenced in on all sides, packed full 
of captured girls. Jew-Militiamen were posted at all exits. 
Everybody was here. From the wealthiest girls to the poorest; 
those who had slaved in the shops, and those who had fixed them- 
selves faked labor cards for money. The prettiest girls of the ghet- 
to have been routed from their beds tonight and herded into the 
militia compound. Many of them are sure that first thing tomor- 
row they will be taken out of here either through pull or for a 
ransom. It's happened to them before. Others wring their hands 
desperately. Some sob loudly, with tears, and some whimper, dry- 
eyed. The fear of the unknown makes you shiver, as though sinis- 
ter eyes were blazing at you out of the dark. Not a face, not a fig- 
ure, just sinister eyes. 

Fella was making a quick round of the gates, trying to get into 

86 



conversation with one of the militiamen posted at the locked 
exits. They're all lier buddies from way back. Maybe they'll let her 
in on something. But now they were all giving her the brush-off: 
There's not a thing they can do, they reply furtively. They're not 
even supposed to be talking to her. Doesn't she see that the big 
boss himself is running the show? It's he who made up the roster 
for this Aktion. Every militiaman has to answer for the "heads'* 
he'd been assigned to round up. Maybe later, at the Dulag, when 
the Germans clear out, if there's any surplus, why then of course 
Fella knows she'll be the first one let off. But now, not a chance in 
the world. Monyek is holding on to the roster. 

The compound becomes fuller and fuller. They keep bringing 
in the girls. Who knows if the labor cards will be any good this 
time? Almost everybody here has one. Otherwise, they wouldn't 
have spent the night at home. Anyone who doesn't have a card 
Just doesn't sleep in her bed at night. Now it all comes out: it's 
those who hide who are the smart ones they don't have to work 
in the German shops; comes an Aktion and they're not found; and 
when they need girls for the labor camps, they automatically drag 
out of bed those who feel safe because they are working for the 
German army. 

The thought that tomorrow she's being sent away on the trans- 
port begins to grow on Daniella. Though when Harry was de- 
ported she stopped caring about what might happen to her, now 
she is suddenly terrified at the mere thought Funny, Here, in the 
militia compound, you suddenly get homesick for the shoe shop, 
for the pile of old clothes, for little Bella crawling on all fours in 
and out of Hayim-Idl's "villa." You miss the ghetto misery which 
you'd already grown used to; the rickety bed you've left behind, 
empty, at the Center. All at once everything seems so terribly 
near, so intimate. 

Vevke must have rushed up to the Center and is now pacing 
helplessly among the vacant beds. There's not a thing he can do 
now. He can't go out while curfew is on. First thing tomorrow 
hell probably wait there in the corridor on tenterhooks for curfew 
to end, so lie can rush, out to intervene for her. Doubt it will do 
any good. 

87 



IV 



The girls were lined up, six abreast. They are to be led out of 
the ghetto. On the main street of the Aryan quarter the trolleys 
are waiting to take them to the Dulag. 

The faces of the girls who but a moment ago felt so sure of 
themselves suddenly fell. From the Dulag hardly anyone ever 
gets back. The Dulag is the last stopover between the ghetto and 
mysterious death. 

Countless files of girls, ranks six abreast, move through the 
dead of night, cordoned by blue-white caps and cocked Gestapo 
machine guns ready to shoot if a foot should slip out of line. The 
last ghetto hovels peer at them with dimmed windows. Behind 
the windows hide heads of dear ones, afraid to look out as they 
lead off their sisters, their daughters. 

The trolleys are ready. A Polish conductor stands by at each 
throttle. Their whole bearing bespeaks indifference. Evidently, 
they are used to such midnight jaunts. Their faces are dull, im- 
passive. Hard to tell what they're thinking. Maybe they are won- 
dering how there's room for such a slue of people in the cramped 
ghetto. Day and night they're taking these people to the Dulag, 
and the Jewish ghetto there never runs dry. Or maybe they are 
annoyed: because of these damned Jews they have to drive 
trolleys now, in the middle of the night. If not for the Jews, they 
could be at home peacefully asleep with wife and kids. 

The trolleys are jammed with girls. Girls standing on the floor, 
on the benches, pressed into each other. Impossible to pull out a 
hand. The straps from the ceiling sway empty, to and fro, to and 
fro. Militiamen guard the sealed car doors. Each is responsible for 
the "heads" in the car. After a few stops Dreiser's tailor-shop 
workers hop onto the trolley platforms. They are on the way home 
from the first night shift. Terror shows in their eyes: 

A girls 9 Aktion! 

Coming home they're liable to find that a sister of theirs is al- 
ready at the Dulag. The heart is in a funk. They can't wait to step 
into the house, yet fear wants to put off the moment of coming 

88 



face to face with the calamity at home. The faces of the crammed 
girls inside the cars blur. The retaining workers look at the girls 
but do not see them. Before the eyes hovers the face of a sister. 

Through the door panes the girls look out at the Jews now rid- 
ing home, the way those sentenced to hanging in the ghetto look 
at the bystanding Jews whom the Gestapo had ordered to come 
and witness their execution. 

At the sealed door of the trolley stands "13." A Hamburg- 
born Jew-Militiaman, whose nickname alone spells terror in 
the ghetto. "13"! He has the number 13 on his blue-white cap. 
He is the crown and glory of the Jew-Militia. They know him 
even at Gestapo Headquarters. It's common knowledge: once 
"Iff* has been ordered to turn in a Thead," the order will be 
carried out to a *V with German punctiliousness. He speaks pure 
Gestapo Germanese, and revels in it. He himself is a refugee from 
Germany. His hair is cropped, true German style. He wears a 
brown leather jacket and high officers* boots. His face is bloated, 
rubicund, and his eyes are bleary and bloodshot from constant 
bibbing. Whenever the Judenrat has to find a Jew marked by 
the Gestapo for hanging, leave it to "13" to find him, no mat- 
ter how well he hides out Now "13" is in charge of the sealed 
trolley. Seems the Gestapo is taking special care with this trans- 
port: the job was assigned to TL3." He stands close upon one 
of the girls, maneuvers to embrace her, pushes his beery red face 
at her and presses his body up against her. The girl tries to break 
loose from him. She wants to squeeze back into the thick-pressed 
mass but cannot She can't even avert her face from him. And 
"13" talks directly into the fear in her eyes in his pure Germanese: 

"Pass mahl auf! * If you knew where you're being taken now, 
you wouldn't be so hoity-toity." 

"13V drunken face chortles. He presses the girl closer, bends 
his whole body over her and hurls the words into her: 

"German soldiers will teach you to push off men's embracing 
arms. Pass mahl auf, my kitten!" 

The dangling straps swayed empty from the ceiling, to and fro, 

* Pass mahl auf: watch it 

59 



to and fro. Daniella edged back into the pressing mass o girls 7 
bodies. The trolley rode on, but she didn't feel it. The words ham- 
mered inside her temples with terrifying monotony: 

"German soldiers will teach you!" "German soldiers will teach 
your 



Chapter 8 



Upon his transfer from Camp Sakrau to Camp Niederwalden, 
Harry suddenly found himself a "physician/' 

Against the background of the labor camp, the whole matter 
of the "sick bay** seemed like a toy in the hands of a maniac. The 
room was two by nothing and to begin with was set up as a whim 
of the Camp Commander, so he could brag to the Kameraden in 
the nearby labor camps: in his camp he has a sick bay! The only 
bed in the room was a crib. The Commander had picked it up 
some place because it was white. It was the color that sold him 
on it. Makes an impression. Just like in a hospital. Even a small 
glass cabinet had been installed, and on each of the three shelves 
stood myriad little bottles. First and foremost: Bottles! The Camp 
Commander gets a big kick out of seeing a lot of bottles. Full or 
empty it's all the same. The main thing; the little white labels 
inscribed in Latin. 

To Harry it all seemed as though he ware dreaming of a dream. 

The whole camp was like a phantasmagoric dream. Although 
the people within it did not sense it They were incapable of sens- 
ing it They moved through the camp, as over the surface of the 
labor area, both on their march-out at dawn and on their march- 
in at dusk, like creatures whose will had been completely drained 
from their veins without their being aware when and how it was 
done to them. Like hollow men; empty containers bobbing at 
sea. They went where they were taken and stood where they were 
put Like inert train cars that continue rolling down the tracks 

91 



after the locomotive lias been detached. To a stop. Death drew its 
curtain over their eyes. Eyes which were already unseeing, but 
only reflected everything around them with the sheen of dead 
glass. 

But as medic, Harry was comparatively well off and his senses 
were fully capable of clearly seeing and feeling the horror of the 
dream about him. And viewing himself in the sick bay., and all 
the rest of it as a whole against the general backdrop of the labor 
camp he felt he was dreaming a dream-within-a-dream. 

He, of all people, had been chosen by fate. Queer. He can't re- 
member ever having been a pusher, ever having sought the lime- 
light, ever having sought to attract attention. Not in fantasy, nor 
in real life. Never. His close friend, Henry Baum the painter, once 
told him, "You know, Harry, you don't have elbows. But that's all 
right. You have wings which will carry you much further than 
those who elbow their way through . . ." Strange that the same 
thing should happen to him even here, in the other world, in the 
German labor camp. True, before the war he had begun to study 
medicine. He liked the profession. But then, there are doubtless 
many like him at camp, some even graduate doctors, who bit by 
bit are spitting up their tortured souls on the Baustelle.* 

His first day here, on returning from the Baustelle at dusk with 
the labor platoon, the Camp Commander called him out of the 
ranks by name, and sizing him up from head to toe then and there 
dubbed him: Physician. 

'Thysician! We'll build us a sick bay in our camp . . ." 

Well, what was he supposed to say to that? First of all, on the 
march-in from the Baustelle it had already become clear to him 
that a few more such days and hell come back a corpse on some- 
body's shoulders. Besides, the Camp Commander's tone of voice 
didn't seem to call for any comment on his part which might dis- 
appoint His Excellency and the upshot of which would be im- 
mediate death by flogging. 

And he wanted very much to live. 

God in heaven is his witness that he's ashamed to look the pris- 
oners in the face. It's hard for him to meet their glances at dawn 

* Baustelle (pronounced "BamhteUe] : labor area. 

92 



when they march off to tie Baustelle and in the evening when 
they come back. Before it's even dawn, after roll call, they are 
marched out to the Baustelle, a march which is as good as walk- 
ing to their death, while hehe heads for the toy room. In the 
evening they come back toting the day's kill on their shoulders, 
line themselves up on the assembly ground and wait for roll call. 
While he, the Physician, who also has to stand roll call, comes 
there from his sick bay. From their tattered rags the Baustelle 
breathes like fang marks of a beast on the shredded garment of 
its victim. God is his witness that he feels ashamed in their pres- 
ence. He knows he's no better than they. He doesn't rate it By 
what right does he sit idle in the camp all day? What makes him 
different from them? By right, they should loathe him, shun him 
with disgust But it isn't so. Just the reverse. They look up to 
him like cowering dogs, with veneration: The Physician! They are 
lined up for noon soup and see him go right to the head of the 
line, come back from the window with a brimming bowl of soup 
in each handand their veneration mounts. It stands to reason: 
the Physician shouldn't stand in line with all the others. The Phy- 
sician is a V.I.P. He has his own private room. He doesn't get 
flogged, doesn't go out to the Baustelle, isn't as tattered as they. 
He's no common riffraff like them. 

As he passes them with the two bowls of soup in his hands, 
someone in the line risks the question, **Mr. Physician! When is 
it all right to come in to have a foot bandaged?" 

**Any time you feel like it," Harry replies. 

The questioner's eyes light up. He is pleased. He got out of the 
question all in one piece. With the Jew-Chief or with the Kapo* 
you never know when instead of an answer youTl get a tooth 
knocked out or a kick in the crotch. But not the Physician. To him 
you can talk. The questioner feels good. He is elated. His face 
beams: first of all, he's on the soup line his twenty-four-hour-a- 
day dream is about to come true. Secondly, he has just completed 
a successful conversation with one of the camp elite. Out of the 
dismal abyss, luck has flashed him a smile and he is beatified. 

Odd. Of all of them, fate had chosen him to go on being alive 

* Kapo: labor oversea:. 

93 



even in the camp. He doesn't get it. His looks may have had some- 
thing to do with it, too. The Commander fusses with him and 
pretties him up as if he were an item belonging to the sick bay. 
He even "brought him a white linen coat, which must have been 
taken from a new arrival. 

"Physician! Fix yourself a white smock from this, and let every- 
one see there's a physician in campP 

Another time, the Commander brought him a red sash. 

"Physician! Sew yourself a red cross on your sleeve. A big cross, 
so it will stand out." 

During roll call, he stands apart from the rest. Even the Jew- 
Chief has to line up among the others. Not to mention the Kapo 
and the rest of the functionaries. But the Physician in his white 
smock, with the big red cross on the sleeve, stands apart. He is 
the prince among the camp nobility. Everyone marches to the 
Baustelle. Many of them will come back dead on their fellows' 
shoulders. At the evening roll call many will lie on the ground, 
in a separate row, alongside the first row. They'll count the living, 
add up the corpses arranged on the ground: all present and ac- 
counted for. 

Everyone marches to work, while he goes back into his sick 
bay. Fate must have marked him out for herself. 

In the medicine cabinet the bottles are arrayed in even rows. 
But on the table, too, there are bottles. It's prettier this way. More 
impressive. The table has a glass top, on which stand jars of all va- 
rieties with medicaments of every sort. Many of the transportees 
took medicines along with them when they set out on their trip. 
Mothers* hands had packed them in with tears, wrapped them in 
white cloth and given them to their children heading for the Ger- 
man labor camp: **ItTl come in handy if, God forbid, you scratch 
your finger at work." 

Whenever a new transport arrives, the Camp Commander 
comes striding into the sick bay with the good news: 

**Physician! A real haul for the sick bay. Go to itP 

In the comer of the block,* where arrivals are searched for the 
last time, there lie on the floor, off to the side, bandages, gauze, 

* Block: bairacfc. 

94 



cotton, iodine, valerian, ichthyol, boric acid, zinc ointment, cal- 
cium pills, aspirin, pills for constipation and diarrhea a real haul 
for the sick bay. 

Upward of a thousand human bodies which, like stuffed dum- 
mies, you do not know what's inside them, and you can't get to 
know what propels them forward still; their whole being mo- 
tivated by one will, "Eat!"; their lacerated bodies festering with 
gangrenes as big as the belly, as big as the back sores to which 
they have become used as one grows used to polish on manicured 
nails. Overnight they swell like barrels. Now what: can't pull the 
pants up the legs. Stark naked they march out to the Baustelle, 
their jackets tied around their genitals. Their bloated nakedness 
glistens against the clear sky like an inflated toy balloon. But oh, 
the privy parts are covered. 

"TahitiansP the Germans snicker. 

"Tarzans, forward march!" 

And the "balloons" march forward to work. 

Overnight they suddenly shrivel again to long, scraped bones. 
You don't know how and when the miracle came to pass. You 
don't recognize them in their skeletonness, just as you didn't re- 
cognize them in their swollenness. Their human semblance has 
long since been obliterated, as routed out with a plane. Even the 
identifying marks that distinguish one body from the other are 
completely blurred by now. 

"Physician! A real haul for the sick bay. Go to itr 

On the glass top of the white-lacquered table, more and more 
toys move in: shiny aluminum boxes, fancy made-in-Germany 
medicine bottles, spools of adhesive tape. The empty boxes 
mustn't be thrown away. Were the physician to do so, he'd have to 
answer for it with his life. A chart hangs on the wall, on which 
is entered, with German punctiliousness, each and every addition 
to the collection. On the table everything must be aligned just 
so: large with large, small with small, measured and sorted by 
height and by width: Order! Symmetry! Discipline! Let's have a 
good show! 

The steel-gleaming surgical instruments are the Camp Com- 
mander's favorites. They were sent to him by the Service Corps 

95 



personnel as a gift for the sick bay. They, too, must be ar- 
rayed on the glass top according to category and size a precise, 
even row: the tweezers, pincers ? scalpels, and one sixteenth of an 
inch between each instrument and the next. 

If it were possible to let at least one of the people rest in the 
sick bay for just one single day not, God forbid, in the white 
crib! What a preposterous idea. Everyone knows that the white 
crib was put in the sick bay solely and exclusively as a show piece. 
It is not to be touched! But if at least they'd let someone lie on 
the ground for a day, it would do him more good than all the 
best medicines in the world. But it's prohibited to be sick in the 
camp. That is why the Commander set up the sick bay, so every- 
body should be healthy. 

In the evening, after work, a long line winds before the sick bay 
door. Those who can still feel hunger sucking away at their life's 
blood, line up for the doctor after they have swallowed the watery 
soup and have licked their tin plate inside and out But those who 
take their soup ration out of sheer reflex they no longer line up 
for the doctor, though their body be threadbare as a shredded 
floor rag; it no longer bleeds blood anyway. They crawl up into 
their hutches and wait there to hear again the waking gong, when 
they will again file off to the Baustelle. They don't even know if 
night has passed meanwhile; don't feel whether they slept or 
didn't sleep. It's a sort of continuation whose beginning is beyond 
recall and whose end is not in sight. It's the Mussulman * phase, 
during which things no longer register in the mind, but are only 
reflected in the glassiness of the eyes. 

Eyes, the setting of whose own life only mirrors itself in them, 
at a distance. 

Often, when the bedtime gong is heard, they come crawling 
down from their hutches, go out of the block and line up on the 
assembly ground in precise, even rows. As if by command. They 
think the gong has sounded morning roll call, and they are ready 
to inarch out to work. They have to be driven back up into their 
hutches. And they don't understand: Why the change? They no 
longer distinguish between the dark of night and the light of 

* Mussulman: prisoners wnose bones were all that held them together. 

96 



day. Their calcified brains clearly heard the knelling of the gong, 
and they don't understand: Why aren't they marching out to the 
Baustelle? 

In the evening, the sick bay is crowded with naked legs and 
arms. Legs. Legs o every variety. As if the whole world were 
made up of nothing but legs. No bodies. Just long, jutting limbs. 
At times a pair of eyes flickers. The eyes had fallen upon an 
open box of white salve. The salve recalls margarine; or cheese. 
The eyes want to swallow it. To sink in it the naked crags of 
teeth protruding from the fleshless gum bones. Better move the 
box further back on the table. 

Harry unbandages a swollen leg. The infection has spread in a 
big circle over the whole width of the leg. It reeks of rotting 
flesh. The leg exudes a rank heat, as a mound of garbage 
whose top layer has only just been removed after a long while. 
The flesh is brown, as though it had been roasting, porous and 
nodose as a sponge. But a sponge is quaggy, and this decay is 
hard as rock. What is he to do? The wicker wastepaper basket is 
again already full of chunks of scoured-out rottenness. Usually 
there's not much to do. Especially with fingers. It starts with a 
rotting nail. It branches through the palm, or into a nearby 
finger. So he amputates the cankerous finger and a few days later 
the hand gets well. That is, if the prisoner hasn't first had the life 
knocked out of him by a Kapo at the Baustelle, or the Jew-Chief 
at camp. 

They don't cry out He lances and probes into the living flesh, 
as one probes with a knife point down to the core of a rotten 
fruit. He scrapes and gouges with the scalpel, deeper, deeper. 
When will he hit bottom? There's no end to it. What is there be- 
yond the swollen rottenness? Is there no bone there at all? Where 
in a man is the core of life? Here, a man in the chair, his leg 
slung across Harry's knees. The scalpel delves deeper and deeper, 
and he sits there as if the leg were not his at alL Tomorrow this 
very leg will march Mm out to the Baustelle! The same leg is 
about to carry him out of the sick bay and up into his hutch. 
Is this flesh alive, or not? And if not, where in a man is the core 
of life? 

97 



At times some one will sit in the chair, opposite. 

"Where does it hurt you?" 

He is not swollen which leaves him nothing more than bones 
sheathed in yellow, transparent sldn. Not a wound on his body. 
His mouth is open, he wants to speak, but doesn't find his own 
voice. Like a person suddenly struck blind who grabbles with his 
hands, he gropes for his own voice and lands nearby. At last he 
indicates with a finger: 

The lashes of his eyes hurt him . . . 

In any other camp such a one would at once have gotten a 
whack across his hollow skull that would send him rolling out 
the sick bay into the electric barbed wire. Who's he trying to 
Md? It's getting late. Any minute now and the gong will sound 
bedtime. Outside there's still a long line of patients, and this 
jokester the lashes of his eyes hurt , , . He sits and cheeps like 
a bird. His pupils are frighteningly dilated, filling out his bound- 
less eyes. 

What's to be done with him? 

The scalpels He ready on the table but there's nothing in his 
body to cut The ointment jars stand ready but there's no wound 
on his body to heal, no matter how hard you look for it Unless 
you cook him up a malady. His mouth cheeps, but it appears 
that it's not his open mouth but his enormous pupils that plead 
for his life. Before, he was quiet. Two hours on end he stood out* 
side, unheard. But hardly was he seated before the Physician, 
than he began convulsing as though poisoned. Hard to make out 
fust what he wants. Very feebly he cheeps: 

Please, will someone help him shed a tear hell feel so much 
better he just knows it he feels it. Would the Physician please 
help him get just this one tear out? 

His convulsions gradually subside. The pupils of his eyes dim. 
He remains sitting in the chair still, tranquil, extinguished. The 
lips of his eyelids are yellow, arid as scorched earth. 

Here it is, life! Here! Poised on the threshold of his body, like 
a bird at the portal of its ravaged nest before taking wing. Who 
is so blind that could not now tangibly see the sheer, naked life 
of man? It now pauses outside him, as wanting to cast one last 

98 



glance at the place it is about to leave, forever. Who knows how 
many years it had warmed this nest; how many carefree days it 
had had there, how much pain and anguish. But for all the pain 
and anguish, it remained true to the walls of its abode and would 
on no account foresake them. Now this body sits there a deso- 
late, charred ruin. Life turns to go its way, like a humiliated, 
banished bride. 

To the sick bay had he come. Two hours stood in line. It 
had given him no rest: Please, would the Physician help make 
it possible for him to cry. 

Is there a man alive who will ever know how vast was the pain 
in his parched eyelashes? 

He felt the moment drawing near. He knew he must give up 
his chaste bride. She is leaving him. But before their parting, he 
hurried to the sick bay for help in bringing out a tear from his 
eyes. He wanted to offer this tear to his departing life as a fare- 
well bouquet of white roses. 

But where, in the German camp, at the last moment, are you 
to get a tear? When the bones are desiccated, the blood vessels 
empty. A tear. In his last moment a tear! Who could now get 
him a tear? 

Hippocrates of Concentration Camp Universe! Prescribe this 
patient a remedy. There will be need for it yet. 

"Block orderlies! Carry this corpse out behind the block! Dotft 
forget to report it immediately to the Jew-Chief. Tomorrow, at 
roll call, the numbers must check." 

II 

Outwardly, Camp Niederwalden looks different from the other 
labor camps all over the area. The other camps are usually hidden 
in a forest, in wooden barracks set up especially for this purpose, 
surrounded by high-tension barbed wire. The Germans Eve in 
stone houses outside the barbed wire perimeter and guard the 
camps. Camp Niederwalden, on the other hand, is situated among 
a group of stone houses at the end of a German village, in a tre- 
mendous block, which apparently Lad been a fire house, or a 

99 



movie theater, or maybe both for at one end of the block the 
traces of a stage are still discernible, and on either side of the 
stage is a cubicle, one now serving as sick bay and the other as 
the Jew-Chiefs office. 

The huge block is unlit and filled to the rafters with three tiers 
of wooden bunks. In these hutches the prisoners sleep and live, 
At the other end of the block is the kitchen, where the soup and 
bread rations are distributed through a little window. The kitchen 
is off limits to the prisoners, for its other side borders on the stair 
vestibule of the German Quarters. The block and parade ground 
in front of it are ringed with barbed wire and watch towers. Only 
the side of the camp facing the village is blocked off by a high 
stone wall netted with veins of barbed wire, looking like a villa 
wall veined with late-autumn creepers. 

During the day, when everyone is at the Baustelle, Harry paces 
among the hutches in the dark, vacant block. In what way can 
he help them? He knows the hell they're going through at the 
Baustelle, though he was out there with them only one day. And 
he still remembers only too well the Baustelle at Camp Sakrau. 
Nor has he forgotten how he had stood on the sick line there 
pleading for them to bandage his punctured, pus-dripping palms 
palms in which he had to grip the heavy pickax and smash 
away at the rocky hillside the day long without letup, without a 
break. 

"Blow, whoreson! There are no bandages for such stinking 
little holes! Blow and bust, whoreson!" Goldmann, the medic at 
Sakrau, screeched at him. 

If he hadn't run for it right then and there, he'd have gotten 
Goldmann's boot right between the legs. 

Before, when pacing among the bunks during the day, Harry 
would fluff up the straw in their hutches so they'd have it softer 
at night. What else could he do for them? The salves are all used 
up. No bandages left. What else could he do for them besides 
fluff up their straw? 

But today, the Camp Commander happened to catch him at it 
and flared up very indignantly, "Hey! What do you think you're 
doing there? A fine job for a physician! I never! Put on your white 

100 



smock and back to your medicines! Ill teach them tonight tow 
they're to make beds for me!" 

He's really messed things up. He wanted to help them, and 
has only made it harder on them. The poor wretches don't know 
what they're in for when they get back to camp this evening. 
He's really cooked their goose. 

In the sick bay everything is spic and span. Harry is depressed 
and heavy hearted. On the table, the empty bottles are arrayed 
in straight rows along the wall. The upstretched necks of the 
bottles claw at his brain. They bristle like bayonet points, spring 
out of the neat rows, up and down, up and down, and stab under 
his scalp. 

The wicker wastepaper basket near the leg of the table now 
gapes empty. A sheet is spread in the crib white, smooth, with- 
out the slightest wrinkle. The two chairs stand at the table pre- 
cisely where they should one for the physician, one for the sick 
Mussulman. Stillness. Idyl. An idyl to drive a man out of his 
mind. 

He takes a chair, draws it to the wall, climbs onto it, and looks 
out the high heavily iron-barred lattice. 

He can only see the hinges on the civilians' entrance in the 
corner of the compound. A lone sapling stands by the heavy stone 
wall which seals off the camp with its back, brute and scaly, like 
a crouching monster's.* 

Whenever he looks at this tender tree a gnawing sadness grips 
him, often so oppressive that he can't breathe. He forgets he is 
himself a prisoner here. It hurts Trirn to see the wall looming over 
the tender sapling with its hideous back, blocking it off from 
the world. He can feel the tree choking, its mouth agape, gasping 
for air, for breath. It wants to breathe - . . to breathe , . . 

Here, from behind the lattice bars, the civilians* gate isn't visi- 
ble. As though it had been planned that way, so no prisoner 
should ever again see the likeness of a free man. A strip of earth 
below; a strip of sky above; a grim, brooding wall stretching 
opposite the lattice; barbed coils of wire above the wall piercing 
the naked blueness of the sly, like rusty threads stitching it fast 
to the wall of the camp. 

101 



He's put seven skin-boiled potatoes in three of the block bunks 
today: three in Tedek's, two in Zanvil Lubliner's, and two in 
architect Weisblum's. A peaked lump protrudes from one of 
Tedek's three potatoes. The potato skin is white as alabaster; 
enticing, provoking to distraction. The lump! He could just bite 
into it Just the lump, no more. With the tip of his tongue he'd 
push it in between gum and cheek and leave it there for a whole 
hour. For a whole hour he'd suck and swallow its juicy spit. No! 
He won't go near there! He mustn't dare touch the potatoes! It 
always starts this way: a nibble . . . another nibble . . . First 
from a potato of Tedek's, then from a potato of the architect's, un- 
til he loses control altogether. The animal in him stirs, he goes 
completely berserk and pounces on the nibbled potatoes and bolts 
them down. No! Today he will not do it. In any case he won't 
be able to keep the nip in his mouth for a whole hour. It melts 
in the mouth within a few seconds. No sooner is it in his mouth 
than his tongue coils and reaches into the cache up in his mouth. 
A few such licks and the nip is gone. No! It's just an excuse. Today 
he will not allow himself to do it Today he won't go near the 
potatoes. Not even to look at them. He must control himself. He 
put them there himself, didn't he? Then let them lie there. Taboo. 
Let him imagine he's already eaten them. Well, would that make 
him any fuller? 

Two days after he was named medic, Tedek showed up in the 
side bay. Hany didn't recognize Tedek, but Tedek recognized 
him. Tedek had been sent here before Harry, from Johannesdorf 
labor camp. If Tedek weren't one of the sons "The Five Oaks" 
of Vevke the cobbler, he would long since have perished in Jo- 
hannesdorf; and if not there, then here, at Niederwalden, like 
all the others who came on his transport, not a trace of whom 
was left What good will his support do him now? What's there 
left to do for him now? It's much too late. True, he steals a piece 
of bread off his own ration every day to give Tedek along to the 
Bamtelle, and every day lets him have a few spoons of his soup; 
and once a week, when if s skin-boiled potatoes instead of soup, 
Harry stows several potatoes away in Tedek's bunk for Hm to 
eat when he gets back from the BausteUe, so that in the morning 

102 



he 11 be able to take along his bread ration, whole, to the Baustelle. 
But is there any chance that all this will do him any good? 

Weird. There's no identifying today's Tedek with the old 
Tedek of the ghetto. Not the slightest resemblance. That one had 
a wise, thoughtful face, a fine face, etched with determination. 
This man knows what he's about, and is sure to get there. How 
identify that Tedek with this hollowed-out head of today? What 
happened to the substance that had once filled it? How does a 
man's head become so idiotically empty, so totally vacuous that 
the sheer sight of him evokes horror? 

Take Zanvil Lubliner. In the ghetto he was as simple a Jew as 
they come, a small-time tailor. Match him up with Tedek now; 
the same appearance, the same face, except that one is fifty and 
the other is only twenty both looking like shriveled boys of 
fifteen. But when Zanvil opens his mouth, you immediately know 
that this was once a human being. Torture-racked, battered and 
scourged, true, but nonetheless a human being. In spite of every- 
thing still Zanvil. 

But Tedek intelligent, able Tedek, Daniela's chum an idiot! 
What's at the root of it? How does it come about? 

Toward evening, when Tedek returns from work, Harry im- 
mediately leads him into the sick bay, washes him, bandages his 
sores and seats him in a corner. Here, at least, hell be safe from 
the beatings both of the block orderlies and of the block chief, 
as well as from all the rest of the treatment awaiting a prisoner in 
the block. After sick call, he sits with him and talks to him as to 
a sick child. At first, Tedek would tell him all that happened to 
him from the day he first met Daniella until the day he got here* 
This way Harry learned many details of Daniella's life in the 
ghetto that she had kept secret from him. But hearing Tedek 
tell of those days and of his innermost feelings toward Daniella 
makes Harry shudder. The most sacred and intimate memories 
now come out of Tedek's mouth as from a hollowed-out idiot- 
head. He blubbers, and his eyes are fixed on Harry's bread ration 
showing from the medicine cabinet His own ears don't hear the 
words he speaks. The intelligent; handsome face of the old Tedek 
now bespeaks one single bovine insight: *Tf he gets a piece of 

103 



bread, hell go on telling." Or: "If lie keeps telling, lie's bound to 
get a piece of bread/ 7 

As the cow knows that those who milk her are duty-bound to 
fill her trough with hay. 

And Tedek had loved Daniella with all his youthful ardor. He 
had given his life for her. Where is that steely look of his eyes? 
What has happened to all that once throbbed and teemed inside 
that brilliant head of Tedek's? 

On one of the shoots of the sapling by the wall dangles a soli- 
tary leaf. The leaf flutters monotonously in the wind, back and 
forth, back and forth as if a secret power were relentlessly whip- 
ping it on a quivering, shimmering greenness, 

No! He won't give in to any vile thoughts! He won't go any- 
where near the potato. Thank God the worst is over. The worst 
of it is when you get the ration. You start eating, hunger scorches 
your insides like fire, and you have to put some aside for those 
for whom you owe it to provide. They are worked mercilessly 
at the Baustelle, while you amble idly about the camp, and get 
two rations of soup to the bargain. It's a crime even to think of 
going near the hutchesonly to look at the potatoes, you tell 
yourself. If you had the guts to resist the potatoes when you got 
them, then you should have the stamina to hold out now that 
youVe put them where they belong. 

Strange thing, that. At the Baustelle you don't feel the hunger 
this badly. At the Baustelle time passes much faster. In Sakrau, 
where he, too, had worked at the Baustelle, he never felt such 
excruciating hunger as today, hanging around the camp doing 
nothing. At the Baustelle you get weak, you want to faint, but 
fear doesn't let you faint. The fear of the vicious blows offsets 
the pains of hunger. But this day-long aimless meandering about, 
that's when hunger is most unbearable. It drives you frantic the 
way it wrings and sucks at your guts. You wish you could go 
insensible, but you can't. In spite of yourself you hold on to your 
senses. 

And whose share does he think he's going to touch? never. 
Not Tedek's three potatoes! Tedek is Ms own flesh and blood. 
Tedek is Daniella. 

104 



And Zanvil though he doesn't demand in so many wordshis 
two potatoes are sacred. May he choke on them, if he so much 
as touches ZanviTs potatoes. This man has a special place in 
his heart yet since their days together at Schwecher's tailor 
shop. It's been a long time since he's given anything to Zanvil. 
For many days now he's been trying with all his will power to 
withhold something for him but he just can't do it He just can't 
bring himself to it He really can't look him in the eye any more. 
Zanvil probably thinks he's forgotten him 

No. Architect Weisblum is Sanya's friend. Putting the two 
potatoes away for the architect fills "him through and through 
with a holy tremor, as though he were touching with his body 
the memory of Sanya. Day in day out the architect stands near 
the sick bay, doggedly watching Harry's every step: maybe hell 
get something. Impossible to pass Tiiim without seeing his cadging, 
demanding look. It hurts to see the architect in this state. It's an 
insult to Sanya's memory. The architect apparently realizes it He 
knows Harry's weak spot and takes advantage of it. He follows 
him with the cringing, fawning look of a beaten cur. If he touches 
the architect's two potatoes now, who knows when hell again 
be able to give hfm anything. Tomorrow. That's it tomorrow," 
he always kids himself; keeps putting it off from one day to the 
next. Maybe it's because the architect demands it, as though he 
had it coming to him 

Howls of laughter and drunken shouts carry from the German 
Quarters. They break in through the wooden kitchen door, roll 
down the long block, into the sick bay, and go shrilling into 
Harry's eardrums. 

Usually, when he hears the boisterous din from the German 
Quarters, he scampers up into a third-tier bunk and hides there 
in the dark. Better be careful. Never know what you may be in 
for during a German orgy. In Sakrau, the drunken Germans got 
hold of the Jew-Chief a handsome young fellow from Berlin 
during one of their carousals, and before the prisoners returned 
from the BausteDe in the evening, had tossed Mm back into the 
block strangled, nude, his whole body a mess of blue spots. 

The sapling by the wall is weighted down with boiled potatoes. 

105 



Before his eyesa blur of potatoes. Every leaf a potato. Can't 
tear the eyes away from them. And in the center of the solitary 
shoot dangles the big potato with the peaked lump, the one 
hidden in Tedek's hutch. The potato pirouettes before him with 
special seductiveness, beckoning and tantalizing beyond en- 
durance. But all at once the peaked lump takes on the shape 
of Tedek's head, his facial expression on returning from the 
Baustelle. And as he looks, Daniella's blue eyes look beseech- 
ingly at him through the sockets of Tedek's skeleton-head. A head 
from within a head. As though TedeFs head were of yellow glass, 
transparent. And the heads slowly emerge from each other and 
stand side by side, just as he used to see them linked, arm in arm, 
in the sunlight of Hayim-IdTs plot 

The "plot" Summertime in the ghetto. The Judenrat parceled 
out the land between the various Jew-Quarters into many plots 
to be cultivated by the Jews. These plots zhalkes, as they were 
called were available for subleasing by any Jew. But at first, 
there weren't many takers. "Before we ever see a ripe tomato 
the warll end, and our money will be down the drain. Oh, no! 
It's just some more monkey business cooked up by the Judenrat 
gang to swindle us out of our money!" the Jews contended. 

Hayim-Idl, ever obsessed with the one idea that his 'Villa" must 
never go hungry, immediately latched on to a plot. Just for the 
heck of it "We've got so many felts stashed away, let's stash away 
a zhalkeP he shouted into his wife's deaf ear. It goes without 
saying that Hayim-Idl didn't have the time or the mind for "agri- 
culture,'* nor did he know just how you go about getting the earth 
to come across with a tomato or a red radish. And so it was 
that Daniella became Hayim-IdTs sharecropper. 

Those were the loveliest days of the ghetto. Then, it almost 
seemed possible to forget everything happening about them. The 
black, soft-pleated earth, the warm earth, soaked into its bosom 
the brow's sweat together with ghetto tears. The sky stretched 
free and boundless overhead. Together Daniella and Tedek 
spaded the soil, seeded and watered it, and together enjoyed the 
fruit of their toil Ruddy radishes, green peas in their pods, to- 
matoes, tiny potatoes. 

106 



Yes. Those were the loveliest days o the ghetto. 

Like the succulent tomato glowing in the flush o its ripeness 
against the sun, unmindful of the ghetto soil at which it suckles, 
so Daniella and Tedek forgot the world closing in on them like a 
noose. To them, Hayim-IdTs plot was like a sweet dream which 
the angel of dreams will sometimes grant the doomed man in his 
death cell on his life's last night compensation for the sunrise 
hell never again see. 

Every Sunday Harry would come to them at Hayim-IdTs 
zhalke. They would sit on the stone bench Tedek's handiwork 
and Daniella would stuff Harry's pockets with the produce of her 
plot, as a gift for Sanya. And as Harry made his way "back to his 
Jew-Quarter, he would turn his face to them from afar and see 
them linked together, head to head, radiant in the sunshine, see- 
ing him off with their glances. From afar, Hayim-IdTs plot sud- 
denly seemed like a lone piece of wreckage on a sea of floating 
icebergs. He abruptly lowered Ms eyes, turned around and hur- 
ried on to his Jew-Quarter. 

Now, looking at the peak-lumped potato beckoning to him 
from the sapling, enticing him to the brink of madness, he again 
sees the heads of Daniella and Tedek linked motionless in the 
sun, seeing him off. 

What is Daniella doing now? His heart skips a beat: How is 
Daniella making out? Good thing she works at the Labor Com- 
missioner's shoe shop. That's a safe nook. And all thanks to 
Vevke, Tedek's father. A remarkable person this Vevke. Good 
thing there are still such people around. Daniella is in good hands. 
Nothing to worry about Sanya also works in a good shop. Wilder- 
man's is considered one of the safest shops. And then, her ccrasln 
Bianca is supervisor there. That should make it a lot easier for 
her. Sanya saw what was coining and quickly got herself trans- 
ferred from Schwecher's shop to Wilder-man's. If s clear now she 
acted wisely. Nothing to worry about, really, Tonight heTl save a 
whole soup ration for Tedek. Then Tedek will be able to take the 
three potatoes to the Baustelle tomorrow. Every day hell give 
Tedek a whole soup. Share and share alike. It's settled: a soup 
every day. How could he have tibottgjht of 

107 



'TTaga! Yaga!" 

The voice burst in through the lattice from the direction of 
the German Quarters. He looked upland saw a beautiful blond 
woman standing motionless and gazing at him. She is wearing a 
woman's military uniform., a garrison cap cocked on her platinum- 
blond curls, and a dark leather knout tucked, cavalry style, under 
her arm. How long can she have been standing there like this, 
looking at him? 

This must be the German woman who comes to the Camp 
Commander. His lover. How did she suddenly crop up there, 
by the wall? How come he didn't notice her when she parked 
herself there to watch him? She stands there motionless, looking 
him straight in the eyes. He gripped the bars as though about to 
back away from the lattice. But her unblinking gaze seemed to 
rivet him to the spot. His disappearance from the lattice now 
would be like a direct insult at her. Like not acknowledging a 
greeting, though the greeter looks straight at you. 

From across the parade ground they kept calling: "Yaga! 
YagaF But the woman didn't stir. Shoulder leaning against the 
wall, she went on standing there, deaf to the shouts directed at 
her, her eyes fastened on him. She must have sensed that he's 
already seen her. 

Harry felt all the ridiculousness and danger fraught in this 
moment His head was inserted in one of the lattice squares, like a 
head portrait inside an iron frame. 

It lasted a split second. Maybe longer. He couldn't go on stand- 
ing there this way. He tore himself away from the lattice and 
Jumped off the chair. The sick-bay door stood open. The aisle 
between the wooden bunks tapered off into the darkness of the 
block. He didn't know whether to shut the door, or leave it open, 

Her voice reached him from outside the lattice. 

**Jew! Don't be frightened! Let me look at you some more." 

He knew he didn't belong to himself. It suddenly hit him: 
What if she comes into the sick bay? What if the Germans follow 
her in! This he must avert. At once. Only not the Germans! No 
telling how such a visit is liable to turn out. 

He went back up the chair to the lattice. 

108 



Now slie was standing by the lattice. He saw the olive drab of 
her SS uniform. Her full, round, white cheeks made him giddy. 
He had long since forgotten that such a form was still to be found 
on a human being. In the ghetto once, he happened to find a piece 
of prewar bread. The whiteness of the bread had made Ms eyes 
smart. He couldn't look at the bread. He couldn't imagine that 
there had ever been such white bread to eat With both hands 
she pressed the knout across her thighs. At the end of the whip 
gleamed a small steel bullet. 

She asked, "What are you doing in camp in middle of the dayF* 

"I'm the camp medic," he said. 

He stood behind the lattice. She lifted her eyes to him and 
mumbled as though to herself; 

"Like Holy Christ . . . Lord, the face of Holy Christ . . ? 

Drunken German ribaldry carried from the other side of the 
parade ground, **YagaI Yaga! Where are you?" 

She turned, started moving off toward the voices, then immedi- 
ately swung her face back around to the lattice, and with wor- 
shipful eyes, transported in ecstasy, whispered: 

"Lord . . . that face ... the face of Holy Christ . . .* 



109 



Chapter 9 



When the transport o girls reached the Dulag, the building 
was vacant The three-story Dulag building, always overflowing 
with captured Jews, this time stood completely deserted. As if the 
Germans had cleared it especially for tonight's girl-Aktion. 

Over the door of the assembly hall flickered a small kerosene 
lamp, barely showing the rungs of the ladder leading to the upper 
level of sleeping boards which extended over the whole length of 
the hall, dividing it in two and doubling its capacity. 

Tens of thousands of people had already lain here on the 
sparse straw, before their deportation. Here was the last stop be- 
fore crossing over to that other obscure world. Rivers of tears had 
already flowed here, but the Dulag had the capacity to absorb 
human woe like an abyss never to be sated. 

The girls clambered up onto the boards, threw themselves on 
the straw, and one by one were engulfed by the darkness. No one 
spoke a word. Each was encased within herself those in whom 
there was still a faint warm stirring of hope as well as those al- 
ready numb with despair. The boards were crammed with lying 
bodies; yet each could deem herself lying here unutterably alone, 
forsaken for all time. 

No one spoke a word. As though the heart were afraid that the 
mouth would let fall what was about to happen. Each was now in 
communion with those mourning her in the ghetto. Beloved faces 
hovered before the eyes. They could hear their weeping, reach 

110 



out the arms to embrace them, tug them close for none to sepa- 
rate. The arms ached to be stretched out to them, but in the 
haunting stillness o the Dulag every limb was afraid to let out 
the least stir. The fear of a fear unknown. 
The night oozed out its last black drop. 

II 

A new day began to whiten the squares of the barred window 
bisected by the board layer half a window for the upper level 
of the hall, half for the lower level. The girls did not raise their 
heads, as if wishing to avert the glance of the new day, as if 
wishing it would let them lie here this way forever. But the new 
day went on its rounds. It peered through the barred half-win- 
dows like a day guard come to relieve the night watch, ran its 
eyes over the straw as though taking count of the bodies it is 
about to take into its purview, contemplated them through eyes 
slowly opening into an evil glint. Its glance crept along the walls 
into the deepest, darkest corners to see them all, to make sure 
that none escape its designs mapped out for them beforehand. 

One by one the heads started up. Each looked at her neighbor, 
and the sight of the other brought the realization that it was they 
all together and each of her own who were the central figures 
in this Aktion. The Dulag and the whole night-Aktion were set 
up exclusively for them. 

Eyes searched about for a familiar face. Those who during the 
night had no place to lie now sat propped against the wall, heads 
hunched over updrawn knees, staring mutely at those lying on 
the straw, 

DanieHa sat leaning against the wall, will Vevke make it? 
It would have been much easier for him to get her out of the 
militia. From the militia building people do sometimes get out. 
But hardly ever from the Dulag, She's never heard of sueli an 
instance herself, except for the big-wig ^scxewtumers/* whom the 
Judenrat itself gets out of the Dulag. Vevke will head right ova: 
to the Judenrat No question about that Hell intervene for her. 
But will it do any good? Wishful tJiintong! He can't afford a 

111 



bribe. And besides, she sees who's lying here: girls more im- 
portant than herself; girls who strutted about in the ghetto all 
frilled and rouged up; girls who had an in with the Judenrat and 
the militia every last one of them is now lying here on the straw, 
right along with those who had slaved at the "war-essential" 
shops. Slim chance Vevke'll be able to get the Judenrat to save 
her out of all the others. 

The women will all be coming to work soon in the rag room. 
They'll see she's missing. They'll hear that during the night she'd 
been taken away in the girl-Aktion. Many will feel sorry for her 
and go on picking from the clothes heap. After breakfast she'll be 
all but forgotten. It's always that way. You hear that during the 
night a neighbor, an acquaintance, or just somebody who had 
only yesterday been working with you was dragged out of bed; 
you hear and in a little while you've forgotten all about it. The 
feeling that the shadow of your own T is still moving about the 
ghetto, blots out and makes you forget everything around you, 
as though the very forgetting were a sure charm against your 
being taken from the ghetto. ... If she only knew it's to Harry's 
camp they're sending her, she'd go there gladly. Just their being 
together would give them strength to stand up to the worst hard- 
ships. Harry was looking sick lately. He never complained, never 
even let her mention it, but she could plainly see he was very sick. 
How will he ever be able to take the brutal grind at the camp? 
At least if they were at the same camp, they might be able to help 
each other along. Maybe they have shops there, like in the ghetto. 
She would help him at work. She's healthier and stronger than he 
even if he did consider her a baby right up to the last. 

Where are they going to send her? The worst of it is just not 
knowing. There's no way of finding out where they send people 
from here. Where are those labor camps? What kind of shops do 
they have there? People would give anything for an inkling of 
where their relatives have been sent and what they are doing 
there. But not all the money in the world can get them this in- 
formation. Neither from the Judenrat nor from the militia. Maybe 
they don't know either. 

Some of the girls crowd to the barred half -window. Outside, 

112 



the rising day unveils a faraway world belonging not to them. 
Actually, even yesterday this world did not belong to them. Yet 
the heart silently weeps for the dreary ghetto sky which has now 
also been taken from them, forever. They look out through the 
iron squares* Their eyes are dry. But each all at once feels that the 
heart has eyes, and it is these eyes that now run over with tears. 

It is roomier on the straw now. The girls who had been sitting 
against the wall all night stretch their cramped legs and feel re- 
lieved. As if all they lacked here was the pleasure of stretching 
their legs out on the straw. 

Everywhere in the world the ceiling is high. Here, if s im- 
possible to stand upright The ceiling presses down on the nape. 
This is the first time she has held a ceiling in her palms. The 
ceiling and the walls are dotted with tiny words, like a grocery 
bill jotted on a soiled piece of paper. All sorts of inscriptions and 
scratchings, topping each other and overlapping one another. A 
huge mass grave in which the corpses lie strewn all over each 
other. Those who were here before wanted in this way to leave 
behind a memorial the inscription on the Dulag wall. 

On the ceiling above her is a symmetrical, sldllfolly drawn 
tombstone. In the center of the tombstone is a Star of David with 
a tree beside it. The top of the tree lops down, snapped at the 
trunk. Beneath the tree a column of names. All almost the same 
tender age, perhaps classmates. All from the same home town. 

A shiver runs through her: Maybe shell find some sign of Harry 
here too! She searches along the walls, on the ceiling overhead- 
swarms of inscriptions, tiny and big, plain and flourished, myriad 
symbols and monograms, in Yiddish, Polish, Hebrew, German. 
One left on the wall a letter to his brother; a second, a farewell 
note to his mother; a third, to his sweetheart. One elegizes the 
long, curly braids of his little daughter which tell never again see; 
another begs his father's forgiveness for not having supported 
Kfm sufficiently in the ghetto. All ixnderscored with one postscript: 
Tlemember to avenge us!" 

A sea of names and inscriptions. Names of women and names 
of men. Such as wrote their testament grotipwise, and such as 
only left their names, singly. An immense cemetery, crammed to 

113 



overflowing. Each namea person's life, snuffed out before his 
eyes. Each namea tragedy of a man and of man. 

She rummages among the inscriptions the way one seeks the 
body of a relative in a newly unearthed mass grave. The skeletons 
swirl before the eyes. In any of them you may suddenly recog- 
nize your brother. 

She gets down on her knees, stares helplessly at the black 
swarm of dots: an ocean of names, to whose deep Harry's name 
has sunk without a sound. Gone down, without a ripple, without 
a trace. 

Beyond the halves of the barred window, the Aryan housetops 
neighboring the Dulag come into view houses in which only 
Jews once lived. Now Poles live there. The Jews' place is in the 
Dulag, or in the ghetto where they wait their turn to the Dulag. 
Outside, the world sleeps on though the new day has been up for 
a while. And here, behind the squares of the bisected window- 
here you look at the new day and you don't remember, you 
aren't even concerned whether it's a summer day or a winter 
day, whether it's snowing outside or raining. You just watch the 
new day coming up and try to guess: What does this day have 
in store? What is it bringing for those looking out to it from be- 
hind the iron bars of the Dulag window? 

In the assembly halls of the Dulag, in the corridors, on every 
story and staircase, countless girls mill about Those who were 
brought here together with her during the night, and those who 
were brought later, in the morning, from the outlying ghettos in 
the area, Daniella weaves her way among them from story to 
story, looking for a familiar face. Maybe she'll find something out; 
they might be calling out the names of those whom the shop ex- 
empts from the Dulag. Here you never can tell. Here death limns 
illusions the way winter dabs frost blossoms on window panes. 

By the exit to the compound Daniella caught sight of Fella, 
standing and talking to a militiaman. 

Fella is as chic as ever. If s obvious she didn't spend the night 
OB the filthy straw like all the rest Her hair is neatly set, not 
tousled, and there's not a wrinkle in her coat, though her face is 
not as self-assured and smiling as usual. Daniella stands off. She 

114 



doesn't want to barge in on Fella's conversation. But Fella notices 
her, leaves the militiaman and hurries over. A weary, bitter smile 
clouds her sparkling teeth. 

"Well, Daniella, so here we are in the Dulag, eh?" 

"You don't have any chance of getting out of here either? Why, 
you're so thick with the militia and your special card was issued 
by the militia chief himself!" Daniella wonders. 

"... a card from the militia" Fella muses. "So thick" How 
many times did they tell her there: "Fella, your mouth's too 
big . . ." Or: "One day, Fella, you'll put your foot in your 
mouth . . ." 

"Seems like IVe had it/' she answers quietly. T Monyek him- 
self put me on the list, he sure wants to get rid of me. Looks like 
he's had his fill of me. . . * 

Daniella feels like saying something; she tries to find the right 
word to cheer up Fella without humbling her. But Fella cuts in: 

"Oh, I'm not calling it quits. I'm not one of those lily livers. 
I'll tie the score with that Judenrat outfit They're not sitting 
home sousing and stuffing their fat guts and send me to work my 
ass off for the Germans. They've got another guess coming. Ill 
give Monyek Matroz something to remember me by. Just waitll 
I get out of here. But if it's labor camp in the cards for me, HI 
take care of that too. Leave it to me, Hd. There's no stopping me 
till I've got that Monyek by the collar, and then, take it from me, 
he won't know whether he's coming or going. Ill square it with 
him for everyone. Just you leave it to me." 

There was something about Fella that imbued everyone around 
her with confidence. Even in the worst predicaments she radi- 
ated dogged tenacity and manly resoluteness. And Daniella, even 
though she had so far stared death in the f ace many more times 
than Fella, felt in her presence like a child clutching at a grown- 
up*s leg when a snarling dog sets upon them on the road. Secretly 
Daniella now prayed that if she must go to the labor camp it 
should at least be with Fella. Were Fella to succeed in getting out 
of the Dulag, Daniella would feel ever so abandoned. Being with 
Fella makes it easier to stand the f ear. Even at the labor camp it 
will be easier with Fella. 

115 



She suddenly felt ashamed at the ugly selfish thought, and in 
order to shout It down within her she quickly said: 

"Fella, you can have iny labor card. Maybe it'll help you get 
out. You have pull, and the German tore up your card . . ." 

"You sweet, silly kid! Everybody here's got a labor card. You 
really figure a labor card's going to do any good here? Innocent 
little thing that you are!" 

"I thought for sure you'd be able to do something with it." 

"Oh, they know me only too well here," Fella said with a wry 
smile. "They know me but good! They know I never laid eyes on 
a shop. And how they know! Besides, back at the militia, one of 
those blue-white soldier boys told me this is a super-strict Aktion. 
Looks like we're screwed proper." 

She hugged Daniella's shoulder silently, devotedly. Arm in arm 
they went up the steps leading to the assembly halls. 

On their way up, Daniella said in a constrained, tear-choked 
voice, "Fella, let's always stick together Let's never break up 
I'm so terribly lonely." 

Fella hugged Daniella closer. "Silly, who isn't lonely here?'* 

Ill 

On a balcony not far from the Dulag, a family sat down to 
breakfast. The woman filled the cups from a white china kettle, 
first for the man, then for the others around the table. The kettle 
gleamed white against the brightness of the day- Daniella stood 
at the window, her head pressed against the iron bars 

On the sidewalk of the street facing the Dulag, there suddenly 
appeared out of nowhere Vevke. 

Up until very recently, Jews were still allowed on these streets 
around the Dulag. Today if s certain death for a Jew so much as 
to get near here. 

Vevke darts furtive glances up at the Dulag windows. At his 
feet he has a large basket full of wooden shoe lasts, under the 
guise that he happens to be passing on his way to the shoe shop. 
Daniella doesn't know what to do. Vevke is looking right at her, 

116 



but can't see her because of the thick iron bars. She ran to call 
Fella. 

"Maybe lie has some good news. Maybe he's found out some- 
thing. Must be important Or he wouldn't be risking his life to 
come here. But how'll he let me know from so far? How can I 
signal him?" The words spurted from Daniella. 

Fella tries calling, whistling but it's useless. There's the danger 
the German guards around the building will notice, and VevkeTl 
be finished. Vevke fidgets nervously. It's obvious he's on pins and 
needles. The basket full of lasts stands beside his feet, to make it 
seem he is pausing there a minute to catch his breath. He looks in 
all directions to make sure no one sees Mm, and immediately darts 
his glance up at the barred Dulag windows. But from so far, he 
can't possibly make out a face behind the thick bars or hear a 
guarded call coming from here. 

Fella gives up. 

"Nothing Vevke can do here. Probably came just to see you. 
Maybe he wants to tell you good-by, the fool!'* 

Daniella's eyes fill with tears. A hot wave sweeps over her 
heart: "the fool . . " 

Vevke fidgets on the sidewalk, can't stay put It's obvious he is 
nervous, tense, but not ready to give up. Every time a German 
goes by Vevke snatches the heavy basket up onto his wide shoul- 
ders, manipulates it with raised arms on this back, as though try- 
ing to find the right position for it As soon as the German is out of 
sight, he puts the heavy basket back down and again sends his 
glances groping over the iron-clad windows. Looking. Looking. 

Vevke's showing up here by the Dulag fills Daniella's heart with 
a turmoil of emotions. Tears of painful Joy well up in her. At a 
moment like this it's good to see that someone out there, outside 
the iron bars, remembers you. So many girls here at the Dulag 
privileged characters and bribers and not one of them has had 
anybody come to see her. Just she. For a fleeting moment a sense 
of chosenness engulfs her, and this feeling seems to distill her 
pain. Even if Vevke only came to see her off, even then she feels 
elated, But she would like just one thing now: to signal him that 

117 



she sees him, sees him, and that he'd better hurry up and get away 
from here. Standing exposed on the street that way he's taking his 
life in his hands. The basket o lasts is a flimsy excuse during the 
third degree in the Gestapo dungeon. And for such a stunt he will 
get a double treatment Why doesn't he get away from here! 

If she could at least reach her hand out and give him some kind 
of signal: she sees him! Please, oh please, would he leave! Though 
she feels that with his leaving the last thread connecting her with 
the world will be severed. If only Vevke could go on standing 
there forever, so she could see hi-m and see him. This looking at 
Vevke now sends a quiver of homeness through her, a feeling of 
father and mother, of family: Someone still remembers. If she 
could just tell him how grateful she is! If there were only some 
way she could let him know what it means to her and that she'll 
never forget him for it But for heaven's sake, let him take off! 
Quickly. As fast as he can. Let him 

'"Down to the compound! Everybody down! Snap it up! Snap 
it up!" 

The shouts carry through all the halls, through every story, up 
the stairs, as if to shake the Dulag out of a deep slumber. Militia- 
men hustle around shouting, "Everyone down! Quicker! Quicker!" 

Gestapo and Schupo * ring the Dulag compound. The girls fall 
in by ranks. The Germans count off, call the roll to make sure 
everyone is present. The lined-up girls tremble. Teeth chatter. 
Terror envelops the compound, as though the Aktion were only 
just beginning. 

Fella whispers as to herself, "Now the jig's up for sure/' 

Daniella feels the shudder run through her shoulders: "Now 
the figs up . . ? 

All present and accounted for. Gestapomen unsling their ma- 
chine guns. Safeties click in unison. They are testing the guns be- 
fore the girls to make sure they are ready to fire. The smell of 
something horrid assails the air. Is this the end? 

The gate of the Dulag opens wide. Ranks of girls, six abreast, 
face the gate, ready. Stand and wait. Rigid 

forward march!" 

* Schupo, Sdmtzpolizei: Security Police. 

118 



Sigh of relief. The fluttering heart doesn't know whether to be 
happy or to go right on being afraid. No time to decide. 
The ranks march. 
Where? 
To the train, probably. 

IV 

On the sidewalks on both sides of the street people were stroll- 
ing leisurely and carefreely along. Many stopped to watch the 
"kikes" being led down the middle of the street They wagged 
fawning smiles at the Germans girding the girls with the leveled 
machine guns in their hands. 

Once, only Jews lived in these streets. The Jews had built these 
houses and lived in them. Now, Poles live here the same Poles 
who, before the war, had waved their patriotism on high and 
never let up chanting: "The Jews are selling our Motherland to 
the enemy!" But no sooner did the Germans come in than these 
selfsame rabid patriots turned overnight into Vollesdeutsche.* 
Many of them now sport the Nazi party emblems with pride on 
their lapels, and in turn each of them was given a Jewish apart- 
ment or Jewish business. 

Among the marching girls many are daughters of families who 
had lived on the streets through which they are now being led. 
Dumbly they lift their eyes to the windows behind which they had 
lived, to the Tailings of the balconies on which they had sat From 
there, grinning faces of Polish girls look back at them. The eyes 
of the herded girls rove shamefacedly over the house walls. This 
is their last good-by. 

These are the houses they were bom in. These are the streets 
they played in as children. Through these gates they skipped off 
to school every morning. Here stood their cradle. Here they spun 
their fairy-tale dreams. 

Every brick here is alive with memories. Eveiy tree-a trove 
of budding girlhood. On more than one tree is carved a heart, 

*Vofcdentscfce: German nationals wfco do not live in but profess al- 
legiance only to Germany, 

119 



pierced with a lover's arrow, beside the initials of a classroom 
sweetheart. 

Under this sky they had grown and they felt toward it what 
children the world over feel toward their kindred sky. 

Now they inarch over these familiar pavements, surrounded by 
strangers with leveled machine guns in their hands, whose faces 
they had never seen; whose honor they had never touched. The 
strangers are now leading them away from here. 

Where? 

Why? . . . 

Daniella had not lived on these streets. She wasn^t born here. 
To her these windows and balconies don't speak of sundered 
home. They only bring back her march, together with her class- 
mates, through the streets of Kongressia. That time, too, there 
were heads looking out of open windows. But then they were 
heads of parents, mothers, sisters, youngsters. They were waving 
white kerchiefs. 

"Pleasant trip!' 9 

"Have a good timef 

From a side street someone comes running out, a basket full 
of shoe lasts on his shoulders. He edges along the house walls, so 
as to steer clear of the onlookers enjoying the procession down the 
middle of the street His legs wobble along as though buckling 
under the heavy load on his back With one upstretched hand he 
holds the basket by the rim, and with the other hand open- 
palmed, fingers outspread he keeps wiping his downcast face, 
his nose, his eyes, so the haze of tears will not block his view. 
The muscles of his neck are tensed, bulging from under the heavy 
basket like the neck of a horse hauling an overloaded dray. The 
updarting glances of the downpressed head search nervously, fur- 
tively rake through the mass of girlish heads marching down the 
middle of the street 

Daniella struggles to catch his glance. She wants Hm to see her. 
She knows it's for her that Vevke is now running after the trans- 
port Maybe lie has something important to tell her at the last 
minute. But what can he say to her now? Something really impor- 
tant? Or maybe he did come only to part with her? "The fool." 

120 



Fella doesn't know Vevke. How can Fella possibly know what 
kind of person lie is? He's looking for her. No! She doesn't dare 
signal bin. She can really bring disaster on him. He is looking for 
her. She sees it. But his tear-fogged glance just doesn't manage 
to meet her eyes. 

The first ranks were entering the station. Vevke halted near the 
wall of a house. He did not see her. 

Off in the distance, from among the waves of heads, the basket 
full of shoe lasts whited back at her like the mast of a sinking 
sailboat. 

Vevke didn't see her. What was he going to tell her? 

V 

On the outside, the train was bedecked with huge German 
characters: 

WHEELS AWAY TO VICTORY! 

A long train had been reserved especially for the girls of the 
night- Aktion. Numerous rails. Locomotives. Heads of firemen bent 
over their work leer at the lined-up girls, as they go on feeding 
shovelfuls of coal into the gaping engine furnace. Thick black- 
white knots of sparking smoke belch and billow from the smoke- 
stacks. WHEELS AWAY TO VICTORY! 

. . . countless locomotives . . . leering faces . . . smokestacks 
. . . Daniella looks. Her brain swims. Everything doubles. More. 
More. Tenfold, hundredfold, thousandfold. They're all chasing 
her. In a minute they'll grab hold of her. 

She trembles. She*s seen all this before! Exactly, exactly the 
same, the same locomotives, the same leering faces, the same chill- 
ing fear. Everything, everything the same! But she doesn't know 
whether she saw it then in reality and is now having a nightmare, 
or whether that was the nightmare 

"Who so wise as -to fathom the cryptic writing an unseen hand 
will from time to time draw on the panels of our dreams? 

Germans, men and women, Frauleins, Reichsdeutsche, Volks- 
deutsche stream onto the platform, each toward his train home- 
ward or to business, fancy leather luggage in their hands. On 

121 



many of the valises the outlines of plucked-oflE initials of their pre- 
vious owners are still discernible. Some stand and wait for their 
train, which hasn't come in yet. Others stroll up and down the 
platform. Mothers buy goodies for their children at the candy 
stands. The children are all primped up, with a Hitler bang 
pasted over the brow. 

Freedom! God's most precious gift to man. Freedom sweet as 
a mother's caress. Like a pure white wing of a dove. Only those 
deprived of you truly know your worth! 

In the center of the platform is a sea of yellow and black: heads 
of hundreds of Jewish girls. Around them a cordon of black Ges- 
tapo caps and leveled guns. The girls wait for their specially re- 
served train to roll onto its tracks and take them in. 

German women pass by the compressed mass of girls, glance 
at them as at a normal, everyday phenomenon. And walk on. 

Frauleins, teen-age couples, brown-uniformed Hitler Youth 
stroll by, cast a glance and go on with their chitchat. 

Passing children unwrap the candies their mothers bought for 
them, without looking up. All pass by, as if the Jewgirls sur- 
rounded by leveled machine guns were a normal, commonplace 
occurrence; part of the natural order of things; something which 
no longer draws the attention, having long since lost its attraction. 

They stroll by the compressed clump of girls. They swerve 
around them as though they were a pile of luggage heaped in the 
center of the station before train time. When the train pulls in, 
the porters will load it on. If s a freight shipment What is there to 
see? They're used to the sight: always the same terror stark in the 
eyes. Always the same dumb faces. Sometimes faces of women, 
sometimes faces of men; sometimes faces of children, sometimes 
faces of elders. TheyVe seen it hundreds of times. They regard 
it the way ushers regard a movie which has been showing at their 
theater for many months. 

Trains come, trains go. Traffic is heavy. Germans. Germans. 
Germans. The world is thick with their speech. Strident, angular, 
imperious, sends the flesh crawling. They have converged here 
from all corners of Germany. Every one of thema demigod. 
Every one of them a ruler of the world. 



The same sky. The same trains. The world goes on its way. But 
Jewish girls, like bales o cargo piled along freight wharves,, wait 
to be loaded up. 

VI 

The cars were jammed with girls. They sat on the car seats and 
on the floor. The train sped along. The doors and windows were 
sealed. Wheels away to victory! Daniella bent forward from her 
corner and looked toward the window. A verdant world sprawled 
outside. For a brief moment everything melted to a dense green 
haze. Nothing remained neither Germans, nor Aktion, nor ghet- 
to. Reality blurred, faded into endless green potato fields sweep- 
ing off to the horizon. Far off, a sun-congested sky bent over the 
earth like a mother offering the bare fullness of her breast to the 
mouth of her suckling. The train sped rhythmically along. 

. . . she is sitting in a train car. She is riding. Around her, girls* 
heads. The same train. She is continuing the excursion with her 
classmates. Like a solitary thread of a cobweb wafting on the air, 
the thought streamed from her mind, wafted and spanned like a 
gossamer silver bridge from that train to this. Over this bridge 
her fantasy now roamed back and forth. And how sweet was this 
roaming, how precious the illusion . . . 

Now she knows beforehand what will happen a moment later. 
Everything around her now has already happened before. A seg- 
ment of another life, familiar in every detail. It was exactly the 
same way that other time. This is the way she sat in the corner 
of the car, and this is how it looked outside. A girl sitting beside 
her then asked the same question: *Is there any water on the 
train?" THave to find out," was the answer then, too. The same 
tone of voice. The same color train walls. The same green fields 
in the car window. Any moment and the farm cottages will come 
into sight Here are the cypresses 

Daniella shakes herself up. The vision fades. The haze clears,, 
vanishes. The silver bridge thins into a lone cobweb in the air. 
She still sees the slender thread; now it evaporates, vanishes into 
nothingness. Air. 

153 



Delusion. 

The train rolls on. That time, the class mistress Miss Helen was 
standing at one window of the car, and the history teacher Vier* 
nik at another window. They were commenting to the girls 
crowding behind them on the sights beyond the window. In Yab- 
lova station the train suddenly halted. It isn't moving on. Mr. 
Viernik barged angrily out to the platform to find out the reason 
for the delay. All the passengers went out to the platform. Then 
Viernik told the girls of his class to get off, too. The train stood 
empty with wide-open doors. From a distance it looked like the 
shell of a cracked nut hollow, discarded. No tracks available. 
The train cannot continue. The girls looked wistfully to the train: 
How soon will they be able to board it again and go on their way? 
Maybe this is the same train? . . . The train is continuing its 
journey. Nothing has happened. The train is continuing on the 
excursion to Cracow. How good it is now to dandle this illusion, 
to drink down its poison like intoxicating essence. 

Farm cottages are scattered throughout the fields. Nothing has 
changed outside. Green fields. The sun still mirroring in the small 
cottage windows. The red-white mosaic of the shingled sloping 
roofs announces in bold numerals the years the cottages were 
built In each cottage lives a family. An essay could be written 
about each family which would certainly win her first prize at 
commencement. That's what she was thinking then, she remem- 
bers. 

Beyond the pane of the sealed car door looms the head of an 
armed SS man, steel helmet lowered to his eyes, gun barrel sway- 
ing by his head. He stands outside on the platform of the speeding 
train and watches over the girls of his class. 

Cottages, 

Farm cottages. It was already night when she was fleeing Yab- 
lova market place. The Germans had herded all the Jews of the 
town into the market place. The first-term girls scattered in all 
directions and lost track of each other. Miss Helen didn't stop 
shouting: "Girls, keep together! Remember, together!" Until she 
didn't hear her voice any more. The voice was lost somewhere 

124 



in the frantic mob together with Miss Helen. The water jets from 
the fountain in the center of the market place spurted skyward. 
The setting sun reddened the water and it looked like Jets of 
blood spurting heavenward from Yablova market Then the sun 
went down. The sky shaded itself with a strip of black night so it 
could afterwards claim it had not seen what took place in Yablova 
market. Where did she get the strength to run after all that? How 
long was she lying motionless among the shot? She ran. She 
doesn't remember how she ran or how long. She ran. The woods 
suddenly sprouted at her feet If not for the knapsack, and if not 
for the bronze plaque on the diary in the knapsack, she wouldn't 
be going to the labor camp now. The diary is on the tile stove 
at the Center. She won't be needing it anymore. What use will it 
be now? Everything is excess. If s all over. She won't be any more. 
No one wiH be any more. Maybe someone some day will find her 
diary. 

More and more farm cottages. Oh, those cottages! Why couldn't 
they have let her in at one of them? She would have worked their 
fields. She would have worked hard until the end of the war. She 
ran from Yablova woods for help. Reesha Meyerchik, the star 
pupil of the class, was lying on the ground pleading with her 
eyes: Help me! Help me! The blood poured from her coat sleeve. 
She ran to the cottages for help. The Polish farmer barked at her: 
"Kike? Scram!" How she'd have worked for them. She got down 
on her knees before them. Kissed the hands of the little Pole, 
begged her to ask her father, her mother, to pity her and not kick 
her out She's also a schoolgirl just like her, just like her. The litfle 
Polack wiped the wetness of the tears from her hands* glanced 
sideways at her brother and let out a shy ? suppressed giggje. She 
was ashamed at having her hands kissed. It's the first time in her 
life she's ever been begged for mercy. She tittered and queasily 
wiped the tears and kisses like slime off her hands. 

Outside, on the cottage widow, over a burning lamp, hung an 
icon of the Holy Mother, 

Now the sun mirrors in the same cottage windows. The fields 
stretch green, boundless. The train rolls on. Where? Girls on the 

125 



seats and on the floor. Heads downcast., eyes averted, as though 
it were shameful, this riding on the train. As though it were they 
who were to blame for their being led away thus now. 

- , . these aren't the heads of the first-term girls. They were 
shot in Yablova market. That time she thought she had gotten 
away. Now again she's being led off. Again with girls. Where? 
Maybe to another Yablova market place. This time the train 
doesn't stop midway. Wheels away to victory! Her hand touches 
Fella's arm, as though wanting to cuddle up to her and tell her: 
"Let's always stick together/' 

Fella stares straight ahead, muttering as to herself, "They gulled 
me into the Dulag. Like a mouse into a trap. Now I get why they 
told me to go home a few nights ago. I let them catch me like a 
dumb dodo. Why didn't I see it? Back at the militia they told me 
to relax, nothing they can do now. I should go to the Dulag and 
theyH get me out Abramek Glantz himself said so. Even got his 
dander up; 'What, Fella? Send away you? Such a thought! Why, 
you're one of the boys. Didn't I sign your card myself?' And how 
they gulled me into the Dulag/' 

Daniella can't stand to see the sadness on Fella's face. She's 
never seen Fella this way. She's completely changed the way the 
sky looks to someone falling asleep by daylight and waking up to 
find if s night. Not the old Fella at all. In the ghetto Fella was 
used to being one of the elite. At the militia, where she spent her 
nights, she had come to feel she belonged to the safe and secure 
family. Like the militiamen, who were sure they would always be 
sending others to death, but not a hair on their heads would be 
touched. Now she feels sturdier than Fella. As though they 
had switched characters here on the train. Now she'd like to cheer 
up Fella, comfort her. But she doesn't. As though it would be an 
insult to the old Fella. The blow had hit her unawares. Now, on 
the train, Daniella feels as though the fear had become paralyzed 
inside her together with the pain. Maybe because the word labor 
camp" hovered day and night over her head like the death sen- 
tence over the head of a condemned; or maybe because deep 
down *1abor camp* meant "Harry/* Though the feeling was not 

126 



completely clear, for how can it be that just in the place where 
they are taking her she 11 find Hairy and be able to be together 
with him? Even so the feeling did not stop surging through her 
subconscious, like a current under thick ice. This she knew; The 
current empties into a sea, the sea is called 'labor camp/' and 
somewhere in that sea is Harry. 

AH other thoughts and feelings swept along like bits of driftage 
on this powerful current. 

Fella's face is cast over with despair. She has never seen Fefla 
this way. It hurts. As though all the agony of the Aktion were now 
concentrated in Fella's face. Daniella looks at her. She would like 
to tell her with the eyes what she can't bring out in words. She 
wants Fella to see her glance, understand it But Fella keeps star- 
ing straight ahead, muttering as to herself: "Like a mouse into a 
trap . . . gulled . . /* 

All the girls here were doomed all along anyway. No one will 
last in the ghetto. No ^special card" in the world is going to save 
them. All the girls here were earmarked for it Some sooner, some 
later. A cracked plate in the breaking doesn't grieve the heart so; 
the breaking was expected. But Fella, she wasn't among the 
doomed. Fella blundered into it unawares. In her you plainly see 
a live, sound human being led to the gallows. 

And that is a pity. That hurts. 

A black uniform-shoulder shows at the door pane. Black, 
Black. Only the little swastika on the side of the helmet is red. A 
bloodspot 

That other time, it was Miss Helen standing by the window, ex- 
pounding on the happy morrow of mankind the Age of Tele- 
vision. Now the black shadow of the SS man stands there* At each 
and every window stands one of them. They are now conducting 
the "school excursion," His frightening eyes stare inside, scanning 
the girls* faces. By his face swap the perforated barrel of Ms 
machine gun, and it looks as though the two of them he and the 
gun have taken the place of the class mistress to pick up where 
she left off expounding on the true meaning and essence of Mod- 
ern Civilization. 

127 



VII 

A vast terrain sterile and unkempt. Behind her the German 
voices were still shrilling: "Out! Out!" She could feel the gun 
stocks pommeling the heads there as the train was being cleared: 
Out! Out! 

She was afraid to look back. 

From horizon to horizon ranged the ocher terrain, spattered 
with black stubs of dead bonfires; huge boulders wrenched from 
the bowels of the earth; overturned tree stumps with parched 
roots reaching skyward like gnarled, jaundiced giant-arms. The 
waste streamed like an immense river. Only in the distance 
stretched a dark serry of trees, as though they had sprung back 
from here in fright. 

The guns were leveled at them, fingers wrapped around the 
triggers. Six abreast, six abreast, the girls marched up the sloping 
terrain. Behind them the locomotive whistled* The train is head- 
ing back. Wheels away to victory! 

There was not a trace of human settlement here. The only sign 
of a world the railway tracks reaching in also came to a dead 
stop here. 

Who pulled these stumps up by the roots? Who wrenched these 
huge boulders from the earth? It seemed as though vagrant spirits 
were busy at work here. Their presence was sensed though they 
were invisible. 

Ranks of girls march along. Precisely six abreast. Each is vigi- 
lant not to step out of line or lag behind an iota. The gun barrels 
are fixed at them like the pupils of German eyes. The soil is sandy, 
loose. The feet sink into it. Some of the girls lost their shoes but 
didn't even try to retrieve them, as if they knew for certain they 
would have no more use for them. 

A path cut through the trees. It was all hush, shadow, terror. 
The captives forgot where they came from. Forgot that once past, 
there had been years when they lived. 

A gate. Overhead, German Gothic characters across the center 
of an arc-shaped sign: WOMEN'S CAMP. Alongside, a postscript 
chalked in German hand: LABOR VIA JOY. 

128 



Chapter 1 



The gate slammed shut behind them. The ranks halted. Ahead 
lay a large square, and far off, beyond the square, a wooden 
bridge spanned a brook hugging the camp like a scimitar. The 
camp ground was inlaid with stones. Immaculate cleanliness. 
Rose-tinted barracks perched along bypaths amid beds o crimson 
blossoms. Gay curtains, lacework style, hung behind the barrack 
windows. An enchanted color idyl. A suddenly unveiled won- 
drous corner of paradise. 

To the right chaotic wilderness. Exactly like the place where 
the train pulled up. Dingy, dilapidated shacks, like temporary 
shanties put up by road workers to shelter them and their tools 
from rain. It is obvious that there the camp is still in the process 
of building. In due time it will look there the way it does here. 

A sanguine sun descended slowly toward the brook. The sky- 
line blazed with red tongues of sunset On the wooden bridge a 
black-uniformed sentry stood immobile, gun fixed on his shoul- 
der. Hie sun flamed around his shoulders, and it appeared as 
though a fiery Gestapoman were on guard between sky and earth. 

Near her girls were whispering: 

TDid you see the sign? Labor Via Joy^ * . . 

**Work doesn't scare me, I'm not afraid of work." . . . 

THere, at least, we won't have to be afraid of being deported. 
At least we've got that behind us.** . . . 

Tin glad I'm here at last Just so long as Tm out of that ghetto 
heH." . . . 

129 



"Of course it's clean here. Tlie Germans love it clean." . . . 

"In the ghetto they think that in the German camps they kill 
people. See the sign outside? Maybe the work here is easier than 
in the ghetto." . . . 

"Pity we can't be here together with our families." . . . 

Harry! If she could only find Harry here . . . Maybe she'll run 
into him. As soon as she knows her way around, she'll start making 
inquiries. Maybe they'll even be able to work together. A camp 
like this would be an ideal place to wait out the war. The war 
won't last forever. 

Nearby, on the benches beside the gate, sit the Gestapomen 
the guards and escorts in charge of the transport. Now their faces 
look different More human. Not as frightening as before. They 
sit on the benches all worn out, like porters taking a rest after 
carrying heavy furniture to an upper story, wiping the sweat from 
their brows and waiting for a receipt that the furniture arrived 
safely. Some of them sit with crossed legs, the black Gestapo caps 
with deaths-head badges on their knees. Their bared heads now 
look like heads of people. They are tired, and their tiredness gives 
off a latent human spark. Their fatigue unites them with the girls 
of the transport and creates a sort of kinship between the two 
groups. 

Seems the ghetto people sent here are all alive, thought Dan- 
iella. 



II 



The German transport guards took off. 

Heavy knells of a gong suddenly shattered the air, rolling like 
giant tin vats across the camp. Doors tore open. The Block-Cur- 
few imposed on the camp because of the incoming transport was 
now lifted. The drowsing pink blocks came alive in a panic. The 
pandemonium recalled a sudden onslaught of Germans during an 
Aktion in the ghetto. 

Out the block gates charged bludgeon-carrying women, arm- 
bands on their sleeves inscribed KALEFACTTRESS, hair cropped short, 

130 



blue-pinstriped smocks, boots on their legs. On the faces of them 
all was blatant the same unspoken muxderousness. 

"Up! Up! Fall in!" 

Far off, the gong boomed with an outlandish clamor, the 
same clangs! When has she seen all this before? When had she 
already found herself standing here? With every knell of the 
gong, the livid twilight reaching from the skyline to the square 
resembled more and more the shaft of moonlight which had that 
time, during the clanging of the night trolley, streamed in through 
the window of her children's-room. She felt her knees crumpling 
under her. She felt as though all around her time had come to a 
standstill. 

"Fall in! Snap to! Snap to!" 

They are being pushed, prodded along with bludgeons. Dan- 
iella runs with the others. A labyrinth of blocks. A queer new 
world. A world all blocks. Alleys and blocks. The enchanted para- 
dise corner has long since vanished like a mirage. The kalefac- 
tresses goad the laggards: "Run! Run! On the double!" 

The camp suddenly stood forth enormously vast and terrifying. 
Alleys and blocks. Blocks and alleys. 

All at once the first true picture of Camp Labor Via Joy came 
to Kght 

Heads of skeletons, piled on top of each other, stared through 
the barred windows of an isolated block. The block seemed to be 
filled to the rafters with skeleton heads. Many of them shook bony 
fists at the newcomers being goaded past the block* Others rasped 
hoarse curses through gaping rows of teeth. The flesh crawled: 
Are these people or corpses? What is happening here? What kind 
of camp is this? Where are they being pushed? Wliat do they in- 
tend to do with them there? Why are the skeletons shaking 
clenched fists at them? Why are they cursing them out? . . . 

Like all previous newcomers, the girls of this transport too did 
not know that, because of their arrival, tomorrow, at the crack 
of dawn, a huge van will pull in to fetch these skeletons to the 
crematorium. How are newcomers to know that the veterans, the 
already-sucked-dry, regard them as their executioners? And how 

131 



are they to know that it won't be long before they themselves will 
also be glaring out of the Isolation Block at new transports which 
will keep following them in here? And the newcomers will then 
look upon them as they now look upon these skeleton heads star- 
ing at them through the iron bars. 

"Step it up! Double-tuner 

Night began to settle on the camp. 

Ill 

Clerks, with white SERVICE PLATOON armbands on their sleeves, 
were sitting at a long table entering on cards the vital statistics 
of each new arrival. The girls of the new transport were led into 
the huge Service Block by fifties. Far back in the block, at a sep- 
arate table, sat the camp doctor, a red cross blazoning from her 
armband, and beside her, at the same table, stood a woman: mas- 
culine face, steel-cold and silent, arms folded across her chest, a 
thick braided knout dangling at her side from one of the folded 
arms. She was wearing a brown, snug, turtle-neck sweater tucked 
into riding breeches, tall, polished boots, a black satin armband 
on her sleeve embroidered with scarlet silk letters: MASTER-KAXE- 
FACTRESS. 

The Master-Kalef actress was silent, but her silence dinned into 
the deepest recesses of the immense Service Block. It was plain 
that here stood the suzeraine of the camp. Her eyes, the thin line 
of her clamped lips, struck fear even into the clerks of the Service 
Platoon. No wonder, then, that the dread gripped the new arrivals 
even before they knew what was going on here in the camp and 
before they had a chance to hear the voice of the Master-Kale- 
factress. 

At the block gate, the groups pass each otter: to the leftthe 
exiters, putting on the camp uniforms issued to them from a pile, 
and to the right the incomers, undressing, throwing their clothes 
onto the growing pile of dresses and coats, and, naked, going up 
to the long table where the preliminary camp formalities are per- 
formed. 

The walls are lined with bludgeon-bearing kalefactresses. They 

132 



stand erect, rigid, mute, their eyes commanding. A raw, slashing 
murderousness glares out of these eyes. 

The exiters shamefacedly evade the eyes of the incomers, look 
down at the sabots they have just put on their feet. The wooden 
shoes clatter eerily on the floor. The foot doesn't lift, not daring 
to ruffle the awesome stillness of the Service Block. 

. . . the shoes! The shoes they made at the shoe shop! She had 
made them herself . . . And here's the clothes heap! The very 
same clothes heap. Now they'll be using her coat to make shoes 
for others. It's all one world. A German world. 

The camp smock gives off a queer smell. The smock is worn 
and frayed. Who knows how many girls this sinock has already 
accompanied to the Isolation Block, from where the stripped body 
was delivered to the crematorium and the smock taken back to 
the Service Block once more to drape the body of a new arrival. 

She stood naked. The locket! Where'fl she hide the locket? She 
whisked it off her neck and held it fast in her clenched fist. In the 
clothes heap? Where's the raincoat? It was just at the top of the 
clothes heap. In the coat pocket! There the seam rippers will find 
it ... 

At the other end of the block, the last girls of the group ahead 
are going out. Their civilian clothes remain on the heap of gar- 
ments, near Daniella. Where is she going to hide the locket? 

The line moved forward. Girls of the new batch are already 
standing at the table. Stillness. Terrifying eyes of kalefactresses 
lower at the stragglers still lingering by the clothes heap. What* s 
she going to do with the locket? Fella is already at the table. 
Daniella quickly moved up behind her. 

The locket remained clenched in her fist. 

Clerks were entering on cards, neatly and precisely, the vital 
statistics of each and every girl. 

"Ever been sick?** 

"What disease?* 

"Anyone sick in the family?" 

"Married?" 

"Single?" 

"Sexual relations?*' 

J33 



The line moved up. At a separate table, one of the clerks tat- 
tooed a blue serial number between the breasts o each ap- 
proaching girl, and another immediately pressed into the flesh 
above the serial number a long electric stamp. 

Because life was suspended before the eyes like an extraneous 
thing, the body did not feel the pain as strange hands jabbed a 
serial number into it, or as an electric stamp seared into the flesh 
the German inscription FELD-HUKE. Neither the body nor the spirit 
felt any land of pain that time in the Service Block of Camp Labor 
Via Joy. 

At the last table, where the camp doctor and the Master-Kale- 
f actress were waiting, the fate of each girl was sealed. There the 
die was cast as to which of the two sections of the camp she would 
be sent Labor Division, or Joy Division. 

Daniella halted at the last table. The doctor tapped her long 
yellow pencil slowly on the roster sheet and did not take her eyes 
off Daniella's lissom body. She suddenly stopped at Daniella's 
hand. 

""Born with a closed fist were you?" the doctor asked. 

It flashed on Daniella's mind: In the ghetto, during the Aktions, 
anyone with a deformity was doomed to death. She quickly 
shifted the locket into the other hand and showed: Here, she's not 
a cripple! She can open her hand! 

The Master-Kalefactress, silent, arms folded across her chest, 
one booted foot thrust forward, all at once broke her silence. 

"How's that? Let's have a look!" 

"Pictures pictures of my family." 

The clamped, dark lips twisted toward the scarred cheek. It 
was a queer grimace disgust, hate, perhaps a smile of a sort. Mo- 
tionless, pose unchanged, eyes downturned as if the arrivals 
from the outside world were not worthy of her glance she hissed 
through sparse, stubby teeth: 

"Get rid of that shit!" 

The words drilled in her ears, splashing into ever-widening 
circles of echo. The twisted face of the almighty camp suzeraine 
bulked larger and larger before her eyes. The words of the com- 
mand hammered relentlessly at her brain until she no longer 

134 



knew what they meant She whimpered, "The only remembrance. 
The only-" 

The twisted lips turned toward the doctor and snapped, *Xabor 
Division!" 

The two words fell like a death sentence on the head of a con- 
demned. The doctor looked waveringly at Daniella's lovely body 
and could not decide. But she at once got hold of herself: The 
Master-Kalefactress* command was waiting. The doctor looked 
at the number tattooed between Daniella's breasts, and began 
writing on one of the two sheets lying before her on the table. 

The doctor was still writing the number as the Master-Kalefac- 
tress drew out the knout-holding hand until now folded across her 
chest. Placidly, coolly, she arched the hand way back, and with 
the same smirk on her austere lips brought the knout savagely 
down on Daniella's naked body. 

"Tomorrow you'll throw the shit away yourself r 

The heads of the girls standing at the long table began whirl- 
ing before Daniella's eyes. She ran to the exit There they were 
issuing the camp uniforms. Between her breasts flamed the im- 
print of the electric brand, but she didn't feel it. Diagonally across 
her back above the shoulder and down to the right side of her 
belly a black welt shot up wide as the Master-Kalef actress* knout 
Remnant fire sparks lingered in her eyes. She felt the flesh on her 
back constrict, as though it were clamped between the spirals of 
a steel spring contracting and pulling it back. 

Outside, an indifferent night sky looked down at the camp. 
Somewhere a star twinkled like a firefly in the dark. The camp 
looked outiandishly vast, as if the whole world were contained 
within its confines. Far off somewhere, the wind played with the 
cries of women prisoners, bandied them about on the dark o 
night as in a game of ball. Red lamps lit a mesh of barbed-wire 
walls, which stood like a border barrier between one land and 
another. Far beyond the barbed wire, shadows of women prison- 
ers moved to and fro under the amber light of a lantern like in- 
habitants of a neighboring land near by, yet foreign and remote. 

Beside the wall of an adjacent block, Fella stood waiting for the 
girls coming out Suddenly she noticed Daniella and hurried to 

13S 



meet her. They fell into each other's arms. Tears streamed from 
Daniella's eyes. 

Her first tears in Camp Labor Via Joy. 



IV 



The block was huge and stark. Only all along the walls, a yard 
or so from the ground, iron rings were screwed in as in a stable. 
Hundreds of girls lay here on the floor of the Temporary Assem- 
bly Block the transit block for new arrivals. From here the girls 
went in fifties to the nearby Service Block to complete the initial 
camp formalities. The girls of each returning group wedge them- 
selves back in among those lying, slip mutely to the ground, and 
their silence merges with the silence already here. 

Fear segregated the girls here and secluded each with her own 
thoughts. Although it was one and the same fear for all of them, 
it chose to deal with each individually. The girls lay on the ground 
as though they had not a thing in common; as if not the same fate 
had brought them together here. 

Daniella sat leaning with the edge of her shoulder against the 
wall. The welt smarted on her back and wouldn't let her lie down. 
Near her two girls were weeping throttled sobs into each other, 
as though it were a disgrace to weep in this place. Fella lay silent, 
eyes fixed on the ground. A girl turned toward Daniella, her jet 
hair cascading to the ground. An exquisitely carved olive face, 
ebony eyes radiating youthful vigor a true Semitic type. The un- 
dersize striped camp smock was unbuttoned in front, and be- 
tween full breasts blued the German inscription branded into her 
flesh. 

"The last batch just left," she said. 

Daniella didn't take her eyes off the inscription. She couldn't 
make it out 

"Maybe they'll give us supper now," the girl continued. "Haven't 
had a bite all day." 

. . , what sort of mark can this be? FELD-HUKE what's the 
meaning of this strange German word? Across the brow of Shla- 

136 



mek's father they branded JUDE, There blood gave from the seared 
word. And the word was as clear as the blood oozing from it As 
though it were quite natural that the word JUBE should give blood. 
But this brand on everyone's bosom its letters don't give blood 
and its meaning is obscure. What kind of word is this theyVe all 
been marked with? 

Actually, they re all used to being marked from the ghetto. 
It's no novelty. Though the first time, it hurt when the Germans 
ordered all Jews to wear the shame-band on their left arms. All 
faces burned with mortification. At first, many stayed off the 
streets so as not to be seen with the shame-band. After a little 
while they grew used to it. A few days later Jews were back on 
the ghetto streets, going about their business again. Ghetto life 
went back to its old pace and no one cared any more or seemed 
to remember that there was a shame-band on the left sleeve. On 
the contrary: parents and children were quick to remind each 
other that they shouldn't dare forget to put on the mark of shame 
before leaving the house. In orderly homes a placard hung on the 
front doorknob: "Have you forgotten your shame-band?!*" It was 
a kind of new mezuzah which mothers and fathers made sure to 
fix on their doorposts. In homes where they still took pains with 
cleanliness, mothers would use the last bit of soap to wash the 
shame-bands thoroughly so the children should have immaculate 
shame-bands when they went outdoors on the Sabbath. Ghetto 
brides gave their grooms silk shame-bands as wedding gifts, 
which they embroidered, in silk, with the German word JUDE in- 
side a Star of David. The ghetto wind was always flapping with 
washed shame-bands hung out to dry. Then the new order came 
out: The Jew-mark will be sewn over the heart! Not tihe arm, but 
the heart. At first this, too, hurt But you soon grew used to it, 
much more quickly than before. In fact, many were happy about 
this change, for the Jew-mark sewn on the clothing freed you 
of the constant fear of forgetting and leaving the touse unmarked. 
When you get down to it, all the girls here are used to being 
marked. But this new mark KELD-HUB3Eh-what does it mean? 
What connection does it have with the labor camp to which the 
Judenrat has sent them? 

137 



The girl noticed Daniella's eyes glued to her bare bosom. She 
said with a knowing tone, "They've stamped us." 

"What does this mark mean?'* another asked. 

"It means/* the dark-eyed girl explained, "that from now on in 
we're the property of the German government My parents were 
horse dealers before the war. Two days before the war broke out, 
Polish government officials came to us and stamped the horses: 
'Confiscated for the government/ We weren't allowed to use them 
any more. Same as now. They've stamped us to show that we be- 
long to the German government. From now on no one is allowed 
to touch us. We'll work for the Germans, and in exchange they'll 
feed us. From now on, till the end of the war, we're the property 
of the German government Anyway, we'll have somebody look- 
ing after us. Not like in the ghetto where we were public proper- 
ty, and anyone who could handle a smattering of German could 
do as he liked with us/' 

Fella perks her head up, looks at the girl clarifying the matter 
of the brand. It's obvious she has something to say, but she lets 
her head drop back to the ground. Her heart foretells her some- 
thing altogether different Fragments of conversation, bits of hints 
she had heard from militiamen now come back to her, and they 
fall into a pattern of sentences with an entirely different meaning. 
They told her back in the Dulag: "This is a super-strict transport, 
which has nothing at all to do with labor camp/* 

She didn't pay any attention to the words, then. They didn't 
even sink in. Her mind wasn't on the transport but on ways and 
means of getting out of the Aktion altogether. A lot of things she 
hadn't put any stock in at all were just becoming dear. Only now 
are they really beginning to add up: The best looking and health- 
iest ghetto girls were picked out for this transport; Monyek, the 
Judenrat topkick himself, made up the list and even managed the 
Aktion, Fella knows that up to now Monyek never ran a labor- 
camp Aktion. They were always carried out by his militia stooges. 
The militiamen turned IB as many heads as they were supposed 
to, but whom they brought that was their business. Of course, for 
the Germans it was the Labor Commissioner running the show 

138 



and he ordered them not to touch the girls at the shops. But this 
time it was all Gestapo , , . Not a Labor Commission man in 
sight for this one. Fella knows who's who, and any kid in the ghet- 
to will tell you that labor camp, that" s strictly Labor Commission. 
So how did the Gestapo get in on this one? And how come this 
time they took girls working in the Labor Commissioner's "war- 
essentiaF shops, when there are so many shirkers hiding out in 
the ghetto? And on top of that, how come they didn't let off a 
single one of the girls? Even the rich ones and privileged char- 
acters are here. Since when have money and pull stopped working 
with the Judenrat? 

"The last batch is coming back," the girl said. 

Opposite, on the ground, lie the Chebin sisters, the two Ortho- 
dox girls Hanna and Tzivia. They lie in each other's arms, each 
wanting to cushion her sister's head with her hand to make it 
softer for her on the hard ground. They look like two abandoned, 
terrified waifs. All the girls here are abandoned, but they seem to 
be the most abandoned of all. Hanna sits up, gazes about her with 
frightened eyes, and Tzivia's eyes follow with the look of a fright- 
ened gazelle. The camp smocks are too small and won't button in 
front On their bosoms is tattooed the German inscription FEU> 
HUKE. They don't know what it means, but their lips beseech, 
**God in heaven! Don't desert usP 

The block gate burst open, The girls sprang up as if by com- 
mand. The Master-Kalef actress and her livery walked in. The let- 
ters on her black armband blazed red. It was enough to see the 
trepidation of her cutthroats in the presence of their boss for or- 
dinary flesh and blood to freeze with fear. 

The command rasps, '"Number tattooed on the body will be 
studied and learned by heartl" 

A Service Platoon kalefactress calls out numbers from a list 
The girls whose numbers are called are stood to the side. 

Five digits to a number. Hard to read them off one's own breast 
with fear running riot in the eyes. Frantically each asked the other 
to look at her bared breast and teH her exactly what the num- 
ber was. 

139 



That moment they all became numbers, and ears pricked to 
hear if they were calling out the new designation they had been 
assigned just a split second ago. 

Daniella's number was FEDD-HUEE A13653, and Fella's number 

3FELD-HUHE A13652. 

Joy has a thousand faces. And, so long as the blood flows warm 
within us, it does not forsake us. Now, as Daniella and Fella 
looked at each other's numbers, joy flashed between them: they're 
going to be together! Their numbers are together! 

When Fella's number was called out, Daniella was ready to 
follow her. But instead, another number, further up in the series, 
was called out. She's been skipped. Another girl stepped forward 
and moved into the called-out group. 

"Labor Division!" 

The twisted smile of the Master-Kalefactress floated up before 
her eyes. Labor Division! What does this word have in store for 
her? She didn't know whether it meant good or evil. And it was 
the not knowing that frightened her so. Just like in the ghetto 
the perpetual separation into two groups that splits the soul of 
the ghetto person in two; the never knowing which group is 
scheduled to live and which to die. That one group was headed 
for death of that there was never any doubt. 

The prettiest girls were called out to the separate group. 

At the block entrance looms the cold, silent boyish-cropped 
head of the Master-Kalefactress. "Tomorrow you'll throw the 
shit away yourself T If at least Fella had stayed with her! Her 
eyes screwed up in pain. The shit. Her hand crept up to her 
bosom. A mark is branded on her body. She's stamped. Tremu- 
lously her hand touched the locket hanging there. She drew it 
out In her half-open palm Monf s big velvet eyes looked up to 
her: 

"Dani, why did you leave me?" 

"To bring you a present,, my pet." 

Her eyes fogged, as though clouds were banking on their rims. 
A grief she had never before felt engulfed her. Heavy tears 
dropped to the half-open palm. The tear haze overhung her eyes 
and blurred them. The white bows on her braids in the picture 

140 



lift and settle over Monf s velvet eyes. And in her mind, as in the 
photograph, the words overlap each other: 

"Tomorr oio you II throw the . . ." 

"Dani y why did you . . ? 

The two large groups were lined up. The called-out numbers 
were marched to the left section of the camp the Joy Division, 
and the others to the right side the Labor Division. 



- 

An electric lamp barely lit the number above the block gate: 
29. The number of the block to which she was assigned. Daniefla 
pushed the gate and entered. 

She froze to the spot 

A blurred, endless road hung over with fog. Countless human 
shadows streaming to and fro through the fog, not knowing where 
to or where from, without pause, without rest Everything as 
under murky water. Overhead, in the cavities between the rafters, 
flickering lamps, showing everything here to be yellow, beyond 
solace. The other end of the barrack is invisible. An unending 
road. On both sides, along the walk, two layers of boards, one 
above the other. Above and below, countless human shadows 
draped in tatters, lying and sitting, wedged up against each other. 
Rags on the feet, rags on the heads. No telling their sex or age. 
Skeletons, Skeletons beyond count Wherever the eye reaches- 
skeletons eddying along in a stream of yellow murk 

The gate tore open, A bludgeon-bearing kalefactress appeared 
in the doorway, and roared, *TJp on the boards!" 

Daniella ran to the boards and tried to climb up. From above, 
mouths bared enormous teeth at her, eyes dilated with hate, and 
feet kicked and stamped at her hands, not letting her go up. A 
newcomer! Her f ace gives her away! Below, the kalefactress was 
batting tiae heads of the stragglers still scurrying around on the 
block ground. The blows echoed like the drubbing of clubs on 
empty pots. DanieUa scampered frantically back and forth until 
she finally managed to wedge up on the boards among others* 



The boards were spread with filthy straw as in a slimy cow- 
shed. The others drew back from her in hatred, avoided her, as 
though she had come here of her own will to usurp their place. 
Just now they are very busy. They have no time for her now. 
Each has a rusty can standing between her legs. In the can is 
the muddied tea ration. They are waiting feverishly to get their 
bread ration. They have no time for her now. She, the newcomer, 
must think she's going to outlive them just because she got here 
after them. But just let her wait Tomorrow, at the Baustelle, 
they'll teach her a thing or two. 

The gate opens again. Two kalefactresses. One shrieks, "Shut 
upl* 

Two prisoners carry a basket full of even portions of black 
bread. The bludgeon-armed kalefactresses follow. Row upon row 
of prisoners sit shoulder to shoulder on the straw. One of the 
kalefactresses following the basket tosses the bread at the pris- 
oners. Prisoner after prisoner snatches at the meager black crust, 
which must do until the next day at the same time. 

Daniella automatically grabs for her crust and holds it in her 
hands. Though she hasn't had a bite since the day before, she 
doesn't feel or even remember the taste of hunger. In fact, even 
were she being forced to eat, she wouldn't be able to swallow. 

Her neighbor clutches the crust with two fleshless hands. With 
flaming eyes she examines the crust from all sides. The rusty tea 
can stands between her thighs. She throws open a mouth full of 
enormous poised teeth. It looks as though the teeth would swal- 
low the crust down in one bolt. But the teeth just embrace the 
bread, touch it and let it out whole. The teeth grind and grind and 
the crust remains in the hands the same as before. Perhaps the 
bread has dwindled a bit, but the decrease is not noticeable from 
one bite to the next. The teeth bite into the bread again and 
again, embrace it with ecstatic fervor, and once more release it- 
whole. Yet the black crust in the hands grows smaller, smaller, 
until nothing is left of it But the teeth don't let up baring them- 
selves and biting voraciously into the grimy, fleshless palms where 
earlier there had been a piece of bread. When she tired of lapping 
at the memory of the bread, her eyes shifted toward the portion 

142' 



still lying untouched in Daniella's hands. The eyes sank into the 
black patch of bread and sucked and swallowed It from afar. 

Daniella looked dazedly about her. She was still bewildered. 
This all can't be real! Can't be! ... Just then she felt cringing, 
beseeching eyes riveted on her. Instead of the lashing hatred of 
before, there now looked from the eyes the wistfulness of a for- 
lorn, sick old woman. Their glances met. The woman wearily 
lowered her head and didn't let out so much as a sigh. 

At the sight of this look, the block and everything in it faded. 
Daniella's heart twinged. She suddenly wanted very much to em- 
brace the old woman's head, crush it to her heart and burst into 
tears. 

The woman laid her head on the straw bent toward Daniella. 
She didn't take her eyes off the bread in the newcomer's hands, 
Daniella suddenly understood. She quickly held out the bread 
with both hands to the beseeching eyes. 

"Eat, dearheart," she said. 

The old woman slowly lifted her head from the straw, looked 
from the bread to the head of the newcomer, and back again to 
the bread. Seeing the hands still outstretched toward her with 
the bread, she snatched it with her nails in one swoop like a 
beast of prey, clasped it behind her and waited. Now she was 
ready to ME and be killed if that one should dare try to take it 
from her. 

The gruesomeness of hunger now stared at Daniella out of two 
bottomless eyes. 

She repeated gently, TEat, dearheart I really want you to 

have it" 

The old woman avidly sank enormous teeth In the bread. She 
was still incredulous. She looked at Daniella and gulped. Looked 
and gulped. Then she brought the tin can to her Hps. Suddenly 
she jerked the can away, stopped chewing covered her emaci- 
ated face with gnarled hands and broke into a choked sobbing. 
A leftover of the nibbled crust remained lying on the straw by 

her knees. 

Daniella cached out her arms to her and embraced her. The 
old woman lay on her bosom like fte frail body of a side 

143 



Gradually her weeping subsided. She lifted her eyes and looked 
up at the tears streaming soundlessly on Daniella's face. 

Daniella gently caressed the bony, jaundiced face. She picked 
up the leftover lying on the straw and put it in her mouth as one 
feeds a spoonful of medicine to a sick baby. 

All around, on the boards, the prisoners were akeady in the 
throes of sleep. The old woman asked feebly: 

"Where did they bring you from?'* 

"Jew-Quarter 3," Daniella answered. 

"And I'm from Jew-Quarter 1," she said. "Still any Jews there?" 

"There are still Jews working in the shops/' 

"My name is Zeidner. Kenya Zeidner. During the first roundup 
they separated me from my family. I was sent here. I'm the only 
one left from my transport. Maybe those there, on the other side, 
those at Doll House maybe some of them are still around. Would 
you happen to know if any of my family were saved from the 
roundup? We lived at 19 Slovatzky Street" 

Daniella knew of no such family. She herself hadn't been in 
the Jew-Quarters when the first roundup took place, and beside 
Harry she didn't know anyone in Jew-Quarter 1. Doll House! 
What does that mean? What sort of camp is this? 

*Tm really from Kongressia," she answered. "Because of the 
war I got stuck in Metropoli. I don't know anybody in the Jew- 
Quarters. What do they do in this camp? What sort of shops do 
they have here? What's over there, on the other side?" 

No sooner did Kenya Zeidner hear the mention of "the other 
side" than her eyes flared up with hate. 

"Those there gorge themselves on our bread! Sausage, mar- 
garine, two portions of soup a day. All the tea they want. At the 
Tublic Chastisement' you'll see how stuffed they are. From our 
camp they take Mussulmanesses out to the Isolation Block every 
day, but they, they have a 'chastisement' only when a new trans- 
port gets in. It's all the same to me now. I won't be suffering here 
much longer. But before I die, I'd only like to know if any of my 
family are still alive. How I wish I could see at least one of them 
before I'm packed off to the crematorium." 

144 



Tlie old woman sank back on the straw, exhausted. Her eyes 
gazed somewhere far, far away. Daniella couldn't get another 
word out of her about the camp. The old woman had left her 
completely for her own world of the past Perhaps home, per- 
haps her children. An indescribable grief now lay on the bony 
face. Daniella felt guilty, as though her being here had brought 
it about. Her appearance from the outside world must have re- 
opened forgotten wounds in this poor wretch's heart. And to 
distract her from her pain, she asked by way of conversation: 

"Mrs. Zeidner, how old are you?" 

The old woman wearily turned her eyes to her. Without chang- 
ing her position on the straw, still sunk in her reverie, she an- 
swered: 

"When the war broke out, I was in first term high." 

Daniella's limbs froze. She wanted to get up to run, to scream. 
To run and scream. But she was like one caught in a horror dream 
who wants to escape but cannot. The limbs won't obey. 

From among the rafters two lamps blinked dimly down like 
the grumpy eyes of a monster crouching overhead to guard the 
prisoners. On the boards lay hundreds of women's bodies. They 
looked like rank, mildewy rags spread out beside each other to 
dry* They were asleep. Their breathing was inaudible. 

Kenya Zeidner, the girl not yet graduated from high school, 
closed her eyes, slipped off to sleep. From her gaping mouth pro- 
truded her upper teeth, jutting directly out of the fieshless gum 
bone. 

Daniella shielded her head with both hands, as though to ward 
off the horror swooping on her 

She's the same age as this old woman * . . 

VI 

"Up! Up! Up!" 

After three such roars from the kalefactress, pandemonium 
breaks out amid the straw. Everyone scuttles quickly down the 
boards, as if they were not a moment ago floundering in de- 

145 



liiious sleep, but had been waiting tensely all night long to hear 
the commanding roar "Up!" like field runners poised to take off 
at the starting signal. 

Kenya Zeidner shook Daniella awake to spare her the kale- 
factress* bludgeon. It took a while before Daniella came to, be- 
fore she found her bearings. Now she was more exhausted and 
weaker than the others. 

Outside it was still dark. At the block gate they were passing 
out tea, a leafy swill. All the women stood in line, holding their 
rusty cans. Throughout the day they wore the cans on their hips, 
from a string or wire girding their buttonless smocks, and at tea 
distribution or noontime soup they took the cans off their hips. 

Kenya came back from the tea barrel. She found Daniella and 
offered her the can of tea. Although this was the second day that 
Daniella hadn't had a bite or a sip, the mere sight of the can 
nauseated her. 

Outside, a new day was making ready to enter the camp. At 
six o'clock work begins. The tools have to be prepared. When 
Hentschel, the German overseer, makes his daily inspection, each 
girl must be able to show that her tool is ship-shape. Woe to any- 
one with whose tool Hentschel finds fault 

Masses of prisoners were dispersed over the Baustelle. The 
other section of the camp, with its red flowers and rose-tinted 
barracks, was not visible from here. As if it didn't exist at all. 
Here there were pits, mounds, and rocky soil. Solitary rail carts 
stood on temporary tracks. No one knew or asked what, actually, 
was being built here. Thousands of budding lives had this earth 
already devoured without one of the victims knowing toward 
what end. For by the time a measly strip of earth was leveled 
out, a whole transport of girls had perished. And the newcomers 
did not know what their predecessors had produced here, nor 
would they live to see what their successors would accomplish. 

All hurry to put their tools into trim. Their bodies swarm with 
lice and grime, but Hentschel the Moon, the German overseer, 
takes great pains, before work starts, to see that in the handle 
joint of the shovel there isn't oh dear not a speck of dust. 

On the square Daniella suddenly caught sight of Hanna, 



the elder of lie two Chebin sisters. Hanna threw herself into 
Daniella's arms with an outburst of tears, Hanna who in the 
ghetto had borne her misery uncomplaining, without tears,, ac- 
cepting everything lovingly, as God's punishment now sobbed 
helplessly like a child. They've taken her sister away from her! 
Last night they separated them, and Hanna is afraid that little 
Tziwy will be lost without her. About everything around them 
here on the compound, Hanna doesn't say a word; her first night 
in her block, where she lay among living dead, she doesn't even 
mention. She cries only about her young sister Trivia; Why did 
they break them up? How will Tziwy ever manage without her? 

DanieUa looks silently at Hanna. Isn't it just the way she felt 
when she heard that Harry was gone? And last night when they 
separated her from Fella? But where is all this going to get 
Hanna? 

"Let* s always stick together, Hanna/* she said. 

She took Hanna by the arm, and as they went told her how 
she had met this old-timer. There she is now, polishing her shovel. 

They both went over to Renya Zeidner. 

Renya now looked much younger and more alive than last 
night on the straw. She is sitting on the ground, scraping her 
shovel blade with a stone. Renya is genial toward them, unlike 
the other prisoners who regard the newcomers with open hostil- 
ity. For always, with the arrival of a new transport a Selektion * 
takes place. The huge van comes up to the Baustelle. Hentschel 
the Moon takes girls away from work, orders them to put their 
shovel aside, and climb up onto the van: 

"Into the blue, mein Liebchen. They're buildnf them a high- 
way there! 3 * 

Such are Hentschel the Moon's little witticisms as Ms workers, 
whom he had already sucked dry of their marrow* climb into the 
van which is to take them to the crematorium. The vacated spot 
is immediately filled by a newcomer, and the shovel passes into 
new hands. Everything is back to normal* until a new transport 
arrives, and a newcomer again takes the same shovel and moves 
into the place of the predecessor. Thus the shovel passes down 

* Selection: tn weeding out of weaklings to be sent to the crematorium, 

14f 



from hand to hand, uninterruptedly, and thus, uninterruptedly, 
the veterans look upon the newcomers as their death warrant 

Kenya Zeidner stretches out in the yellow sand. She has fin- 
ished scraping the shovel, and is resting a bit The shovel lies 
on top of her, its gleaming blade on her bosom. She holds the 
shovel in fast embrace, as a lover. 

Renya Zeidner is in good humor. Today work wiU probably 
start two hours late, and that gives her a holiday feeling. Today 
she can take it easy at a time when, on any other day, she'd al- 
ready be hard at work. Today the inferno is sure to start two 
hours later: they brought a new transport to the Joy Division 
last night, and they're bound to have themselves a Public Chas- 
tisement this morning. Otherwise, Hentschel the Moon would 
already be on the Baustelle. If that's the case, Renya can let her- 
self loll a while in the sand. If s holiday in the camp. 

TThose there,** Renya points to the Joy Division, "pack in a 
good bellyful before they get to the oven. True, they end up 
climbing into the van just like us, but while they're alive they 
don't starve their guts out It's with our bread, our drops of mar- 
malade that they fatten them there! And the beating they get on 
their last day? We get it plus every day!" 

VII 

Three heavy knells of the gong carried across the camp. The 
sky deflected their echo over to the Baustelle. Kalefactresses 
stormed out of barracks, bludgeons like flags in their hands, bat- 
ting the prisoners' heads toward the Execution Square. All pris- 
oners, of both sections of the camp, have to attend Public Chas- 
tisement in the Joy Division. When a flogging is put on, all the 
prisoners are required to watch the spectacle. 

The German way, you know. 

The two sections are partitioned off by a double wall of barbed 
wire. In the center, between the walls, is the Execution Square. 

Joy-kaldFactresses lead some twenty girls, nude, into the square. 
Each one is strapped over a separate stool the feet to the f ore- 

148 



legs of the stool, arms to the hindlegs, face down. Beside each 
stool a kalefactxess stands by, bludgeon ready. The Master- 
Kalefactress silently directs the Chastisement All eyes are fixed 
upon her for the starting signal, but she, in turn, is waiting for 
Yaga, the blond Camp Commander, to make her appearance with 
her entourage to watch the Sin Purgation about to be performed, 

When the "Blond Beast" shows up ? the Master-Kalefactress 
cracks her knout down on the back of one of the kalef actresses 
the starting signal, and they, specially trained for this murderous 
task, get to work 

Bludgeons rise in one cadence, with Germanic measure and 
precision, and swinge down in unison on the naked bodies. With- 
out pause, without letup. The shrieks split the heavens, geyser 
from the stools out of key, off rhythm, but the lofty heavens obedi- 
ently keep their silence, as by German command. 

Strung on the barbed wire along both sides of the Execution 
Square eyes. Eyes beyond count Prisoners* eyes, witnessing from 
both sides of the camp the pageant of Sin Purgation now being 
presented on the Execution Square. 

The black van stands by. Kalef actresses hurl in the mangled 
bodies of the "purgated." The van then swings around toward 
the Labor Division, in passing to pick up the skeletons at the 
Isolation Block. 

In the Labor Division, the Mussulmanesses crawl of their own 
accord into the van, appearing like a death crawl of corpses re- 
turning voluntarily from the night, one after the other, into their 
common burial pit 

VIII 

Hentschel the Moon, the German overseer, really had a head 
like a full moon: rotund, ball-shaped, as if traced out with a 
compass, dean-shaven, tiny ears, a wisp of a nose, a slit of a 
mouth all topped with a mass of pink flesh, and a thick, heavy 
cudgel set in Ms hand. 

When Hentschel flogged and Hentschel flogged to death- 

149 



it was never discernible on his moon face whether he was doing 
it out of annoyance, or hatred, or for the sadistic fun of it He was 
like a machine brought here to Mil, and Mil he does with ex- 
emplary precision. 

It may very well be that at home Hentschel has a wife and 
children; it is possible that he is careful to go to church every 
Sunday; perhaps in the circle of his family, relatives, friends, 
Hentschel is known as a meek, modest person; is first to say "hello" 
to everyone, gets up for a lady on the streetcar. It may be that 
until war broke out Hentschel was employed as a competent, 
reliable clerk in a construction company, and every morning, at 
exactly the same time, his wife prepared him a ham sandwich for 
brunch; and every morning, at exactly the same time, he gave 
her a good-by peck on the brow before leaving for work. But 
here, in Camp Labor Via Joy, Hentschel swims day in, day out 
in a sea of blood, in an inferno of human misery for which no 
language in the world has the idiom. 

With the very hands with which, at exactly ten o'clock every 
morning, Hentschel takes the Butterbrodt from its neat wrapping 
obviously prepared by dutiful wifely hands with those very 
hands he daily crushes young, quivering girlish lives, 

It may very well be that after such a day, Hentschel returns 
home as he used to from the office; takes a footbath; neighbors 
drop in for a chat or a game of dominoes; a canary warbles in 
the cage hanging from the lintel of the open window; in the yard 
children play basketball. Hentschel gets up, pours water into 
the flower pots on the window sill: Flowers are like people. They 
are alive. And Just as people must have food, flowers must have 
water. Deprive them of their water they wither. And that's 
very sad. Hentschel feels how sad. 

It may even be that with his own hands Hentschel fills the 
saucer with milk and sets it on the floor for the kitten he is raising 
at home. 

Later, when the neighbors leave, Hentschel takes the bulky 
watch from his vest pocket, winds it for the next twenty-four 
hours, and makes ready for bed. Tomorrow, first thing, he has 
to get up again for work at Camp Labor Via Joy. 

150 



IX 

The girls o the new transport have no work tools. The van has 
already taken off. Because of the Purgation, Hentschel was late 
in coming to camp today and didn't have time to make his 
Selektion. Therefore, there aren't enough tools to go around. So 
Hentschel assembles the newcomers, studies their faces, sizes 
each one up individually, and with his expert connoisseur's eye 
estimates: Who'll hold out at work, and wholl up and fizz out? 

"Damn fish-nation!" is HentscheFs routine curse. "Like fish out 
of water: some last a while and some rot on the spot . . ? 

Hentschel has a foolproof method all his own. He knows that 
first and foremost he has to teach the newcomers what he means 
by work. He knows that the only source of strength for work in 
this place is fear. The main thing feax! Therefore, it's up to him 
to reveal this source to themand immediately. That's the way tie 
always does it. He's tried it and he knows. 

On the ground lie temporary tracks, over which rock-filled 
rail carts are pushed from place to place. These tracks always 
have to be carried from one place to the other. Just the thing for 
breaking in new transportees. 

Hentschel gives an order. A batch of new transportees go in 
between the tracks, line up in file along the whole length of the 
interminable rails. The rails are bolted to thick wooden ties which 
are imbedded deep in the earth because of the constant pressure 
of the rock-filled carts. HentscheFs head is all nonchalance, like 
the moon disk. Come to think of it, there is a crinkle of a smile 
on Bis face, the Eke of which only children see on the face of the 
moon. 

When all is set, the Moon lets out a screech; "Get hold!** 

The girls bend down, "get hold** with their hands, right and 
left, of the cold iron of the rails. The Moon again screeches: 
"Lift high!" 

The girls are stooped over, fingers damped on the rails. The 
rails don't budge. The weight of the iron itself is beyond their 
strength, let alone when it is bolted to ties, and not to mention 
when the ties are rooted in the earth and the earth is recalcitrant, 

151 



holding the ties fast between clenched teeth and stubbornly re- 
fusing to let go of them. 

Each girl is absorbed in herself, bowed to the earth as in mute 
prayer: Please, merciful earth, please let the tracks go. 

At first they didn't notice. But the screams shocked them into 
awareness. They cocked their eyes and saw: Hentschel stands 
over Hanna of Chebin, and pommels her body unflaggingly with 
a shovel handle. As though he were drubbing unctuously, with 
sacred purpose. As though the very drubbing were the purpose. 

Hanna is sprawled over the tracks and Hentschel bastes her 
feet, her head, her armbones. Hanna screams to God, writhes on 
the ground, bites her teeth into the sand, tears at her hair. Her 
teeth strain out of her mouth, her eyes tear from their sockets 
and the Moon stands over her placid, unruffled, not the least bit 
angry, and with no effort at all goes on laying the thick handle 
into the shoulder bones, at the anHes, the wrists beating, beat- 
ing* Hanna wants to pass out. She wants to die: 

**God in heaven!!! Take me! God in heaven!!! Take me! . , . 
Godlir 

But Hentschel doesn't let her pass out. Hentschel doesn't let 
her die. 

Hentschel is now in pitched battle with "God in heaven." He 
won't turn Hanna over to God so quickly. Hentschel is as stubborn 
as the recalcitrant earth, which refuses as obstinately to let go 
the rails. Hentschel knows that Hanna has to come across with 
many more hefty screams before she dies. All the new trans- 
portees must afterward go on hearing the screams for as long as 
they are assigned to Ms jurisdiction. And he lays into Hannahs 
bones calculatedly, methodically. Just so she doesn't pass out. 
Because once Hanna stops screaming shell be dead. Oh, he 
knows this from experience. It never fails. 

*"Get hold!" Hentschel's command shrills a second time. 

The girls pounce upon the rails, sink their fingers into the iron. 

"Lift high!" 

The source is revealed. Fear generates superhuman strength 
into the hands* Hanna lies on the ground. Something still stirs 
within her. A foot, a hand, something lets off an occasional twitch. 

152 



A twitch, and then no more. She lies still, a hollow husk. But the 
echoes of her screams still hover aloft, grate on the air. 

Now the battle is joined between the earth and delicate girl- 
ish hands. The battle for the tie-bolted rails. It seems the girlish 
hands are stronger than the might of the earth, for bit by bit the 
ties slip out of the clamped teeth of the earth. 

Hentschel screeches: "Spine out!" 

That is: Backs straight, posture proud and erect while carry- 
ing the iron rails. The earth draws the rails back with an inde- 
scribable magnetism. The earth hasn't given up yet, it seems. It 
wants to retrieve its own. But on high, above the erect heads, 
Hannahs screams flurry about as though hurled back unanswered 
from the heavens: 

"God in heaven! . . ? "God in heaven! . . ." 

And girlish hands overcome the magnetic might of the earth. 
They carry the rails. 

The girls vanquished the earth in the battle for the rails, and 
God vanquished Hentschel in the battle for Hanna's soul. Kalef ac- 
tresses fling Hanna's corpse into the Isolation Block so it shouldn't 
get in the way on the Baustelle. 

Hentschel takes the bulky watch from his vest pocket: exactly 
ten o'clock. He seats himself on an overturned cart to have his 
brunch. He peels the neat wrapping off the Butterbrodt, and 
daintily sinks his wee red lips into the sandwich. As he munches 3 
his tiny eyes rove all over the Baustelle, like a contented rancher 
surveying the bounty of cattle grazing in his pasture. A current of 
nervous diligence galvanizes the hundreds of girls bent over their 
work: 

"Chick! Chick! Moon's watching. 9 * 



Parade. 

All the newcomers are lined up on the square, naked. Yaga, 
the Blond Beast, and the German chief physician behind her are 
coming to inspect the new transport 

The chief physician passed slowly before the girls, closely ex- 

153 



amining each one. Reaching Daniella, he paused, looked at the 
black edges o welt on her left shoulder and right side o her 
bellya souvenir of the Master-Kalefactress' knout. He knit his 
brows: Whafs this? Flogging here, in the German labor camp? 
He was flabbergasted* as though a flagrant breach of German 
ethics has been committed here. He pointed with his finger to the 
shoulder. "When did it happen?" 

Daniella remembered the locket hidden among her rags on 
the ground. She kept still. 

The chief physician scanned her body and couldn't figure it 
out. There must be some mistake. Undoubtedly, a mistake. He 
ordered her to open her mouth, peered into her eyes, fingered 
her breasts, and finally turned to the Gamp Commander and dis- 
cussed something with her in whispers. 

Yaga went up to Daniella, also examined her closely, asking, 
Does she have any internal disease? Did she ever have a con- 
tagious disease? Is she married? The very questions the clerks had 
asked two days ago in the Service Block 

TNo," Daniella answered to question after question. 

The Camp Commander ordered Daniella to step out and dress, 
and stood her to the side. When parade was over, and the new 
transportees had gone back to Hentschel, Yaga took Daniella 
along to headquarters. There she looked up Daniella's medical 
card, and had the SlovaMan doctor summoned to her the same 
doctor who had entered Daniella on the Labor List 

When she entered the office, Yaga welcomed her, first of all, 
with a kick in the belly, and only then pointed to Daniella, growl- 
ing angrily, "Such a flower you send to the quarry? YouVe got too 
much of this brand in your whore house?" 

As of that moment, Daniella belonged to the Joy Division. 



154 



Chapter 11 



That day, Harry left Tedek's three potatoes intact; didn't touch 
them, didn't even go near them. However, Tedek never got to eat 
them. 

Through the barred lattice of the sick bay Harry heard the 
prisoners singing: "Gals I Adore . . ."a sign that they are al- 
ready marching in from the Baustelle. Of the songs they are 
made to sing on the way, this is the last one as they approach 
the camp gate. As a matter of fact, there is something hopeful and 
promising about this ditty, both in the lyrics and in the tune. 
Every prisoner feels it For while the mouths are singing about 
^GreteFs tall tits,** the eyes already see the ladle of soup they'll 
soon be getting in camp, and the limbs feel the bunk boards 
where they'll soon be able to lie down. Since the SS men first 
noticed that the prisoners sing this ditty with more gusto that 
is, no need to crack any skulls with the gun stock so the others 
will be convinced that while inarching to and from the Baustelle 
there must be singing and since they think it's the contents of the 
ditty that causes it, they always order '"Gals I Adore** to be sung 
on approaching the camp gate. Let tie Camp Commando: hear 
how lustily his prisioners sing. 

Hairy goes out to the parade ground. Soon roll call will start, 
when the Camp Commander will get the report: So-and-so-many 
dead, so-and-so-many alive. All must be present and accounted 
for. 

The first ranks march into the camp, line up OB the parade 

155 



ground according to regulation: the short in front, the taller to 
the rear. Their mouths are still singing the last bars o "Gals I 
Adore"* as the last ranks march in through the gate with the dead 
on their shoulders, lay the corpses* heads square with the feet 
of the first rank, one along side the other, legs stretched out 
straight, hands folded on the belly cavitycan't have anyone out 
of line. Now, it isn't improper for a long one to lie beside a short 
one. Just so long as the heads are in an even line with the feet of 
those standing in the first rank. 

Harry stands at the other end, a few steps away from the ranks, 
as befits the dignity of his white smock with the red cross em- 
blazoned on the sleeve. His eyes search among the rows: Where 
can Tedek be? Why doesn't he see him? 

"The Cat" comes out of the German Quarters. Already without 
his gun. He suddenly remembers something, calls the Jew-Chief 
over, hands him a slip of paper scribbled with two names of 
prisoners whom he orders him to punish with all due severity. 

Twenty in the ass! Get that, Spitz?" the Cat snarls with his 
toothless mouth at the Jew-Chief. 

The Cat is an old SS man, completely toothless, with two droop- 
Ing, scraggly whiskers fringing his puckered mouth; hence his 
nickname, the Cat. He sits dozing in the Baustelle sun all day 
long. But as he starts up between naps and wants to convince the 
skies above, the world around, his comrades, and the conscience 
within him that he really hadn't been asleep at the switch, he 
whips out his black memo book, calls one of the prisoners over 
and takes down his name and number. Later, in camp, he remem- 
bers, rips the page from his memo book and hands it to the Jew- 
Chief, so that he should make a good example of those he bagged 
at the Baustelle. The Cat is too old and lazy to carry out the pun- 
ishment himself. But never mind. Leave it to Spitz. Not a single 
prisoner has ever gotten up from the wooden bench after Spitz 
has counted "twenty in the ass** into him. 

And let everyone get this: The Cat does not snooze. 

. . where on earth is Tedek? Every time Harry glances over 
the rows, he collides with architect Weisblum's cadging look 
which proclaims; "Hare I am, right here.* 7 He wants Harry to see 

156 



Mm, not to forget about Mm. The collar of the architect's jacket 
is disjointed and frazzled. The jacket is moldy and coining apart 
at the seams. Through the rents shows a bare, grimy shoulder 
bone. His shaved skull is spattered with sun-baked muck and 
mud from the BausteHe. "Prince of Wales," Sanya used to call 
Mm in her gay moments. And he took great pride in this nick- 
name. She liked him for his stylishness, and especially for having 
lifted himself by his own bootstraps to Ms Mgh, secure position 
in life. The most modem buildings of Greater Metropoli were 
built according to arcMtect Weisblum's designs. Even Metropolfs 
anti-Semitic city council had to call on him to design new muni- 
cipal structures. Twice a year he went abroad to acquaint himself 
at first hand with the latest developments in modem arcMtecture, 
and he never forgot be it in New York or in Paristo send Sanya 
Ms snapshots; and he never failed, as soon as he was back from a 
trip, to make an appearance before Sanya in the elegant foreign 
suits lie had picked up this trip. "Prince of Wales? And the title 
really fitted Mm. His splendid manly figure was just right for Ms 
dashing clothes, wMch always became the rage. The **Weisblum 
ties/' "Weisblum shoes," ^"Weisbliun angle" of the hat brim 
these all set the vogue for the Metropoli playboys. Men discussed 
Ms clothes with the same admiration that an original Biedenneier 
is talked about He was the darling of the Metropoli snob set, 
and was accustomed to being pampered by the cooings and 
coquetries of sleek socialites. Yet, he would always pop up in 
the Zacopane snow mountains whenever Sanya went Tip there 
for her favorite sport, skiing, even though no one told "him about 
it. He would always know, somehow. 

Seems he was really in love with Sanya, 

Now he stands here, this Trince of Wales," in the roll-call 
ranks, fixing a beseeching sidelong glance on Harry: For the sake 
of their common feelings for Sanya, would Harry please remem- 
ber to give Mm a few spoons of Ms soup. 

^Prisoners! At my command, atten-tionr 

Roll call is on. 

The prisoners stiffen up, not breathing, not stirring, as dead all, 
of course* except the really dead^ who go on lying on the ground 

157 



placid, indifferent, hands folded over their belly cavities, no longer 
concerned with roll call. They are free men and they flaunt it 
publicly. They don't as much as bat an eyelash at the "Attention!" 
but go on gazing at the sky spread over them like a white quilt, 
and dream their free, tranquil death dream. 

Except for some whose faces are contorted as if in nightmare. 
Perhaps it is the German labor camp that has now intruded upon 
their dream, warping the tranquility on their faces. 

The Jew-Chief runs up to the Sturmbahnfuhrer, salutes and 
reports. The Sturmbalmfiihrer wheels around to the Camp 
Commander, salutes and reports. The Camp Commander strides 
along the first rank, counts the feet. Where the feet end the skulls 
begin, and he counts them in the same breath. 

The number checks. Everything is in order. Roll call is over. 
The prisoners start running and jostling into the block, line up 
for the soup distribution. Each wants to get there first. Hunger 
will not take second place on the soup line. 

Harry does not move. The prisoners stream past him like water 
flowing around an impeding stone. He scans, looks intently around 
for Tedefc. He wants to bring him into the sick bay. The archi- 
tect is carried along by the stream. As he catches sight of Harry, 
he looks back as though meaning to halt, but he can't make up 
his mind: To keep running, or linger a while so Harry should see 
him? He looks back at Harry as though he had something urgent 
to tell him. Finally, he lets himself be swept along toward the 
block Apparently, he cannot give up the chance of being among 
the first on the soup line. 

The parade ground empties. Something horrible begins to dawn 
on Harry, but he will have none of it. He feels the mere thought 
unsettling his knees. A noisy racket issues from the block. Stand- 
ing hare, outside, you hear the tumult louder than inside. There, 
to the jangle and clatter of tin plates, the prisoners scuffle into 
line as though after gulping down the watery soup their hunger 
won't be a thousand times worse. There, in the block, life still 
makes a row. But here, across the parade ground, death lies in 
busied repose. Soon, all those now damoring in the block will 
also be still as these laid out here head beside headsilent, silent. 

158 



Hadn't these arrayed here on the ground fluttered and clam- 
ored this very morning at bread time Just like those now brawling 
in the block? 

The parade ground is empty. Dread thumps in the heart. He is 
afraid to cross the square. He wants to coddle the illusion a 
little while longer: Maybe Tedek is in the block. Maybe he missed 
him as he ran into the block. In the mind the truth is clearly 
established, but he still refuses to face it The parade ground is 
empty, and the sky, too, is empty. Harry's eyes strain at the 
corpses laid out beside each other by the wall there. Inside the 
block the prisoners are already Jostling toward the soup barrels, 
while these, on the fringe of the square, continue to lie rigid, 
fixed, as though unaware that roll call is over; as though they had 
turned to stone during roll call and now have to be wakened: 
Why don't you get up? Soup's on! 

On the other side of the barbed wire, an SS man comes out of 
the German Quarters, without the black Jacket, without cap, Just 
in his white undershirt. He saunters down toward the washroom 
carrying a white towel and soap. The wooden clogs on Ms feet 
clippity-clop on the stone path, recalling the idyl of a laborer 
returning from work in the evening and going to freshen up with 
a cold rinse. He is whistling "Gals I Adore/* and the tune sounds 
queer coming from the mouth of an SS man, as though the song 
were part and parcel of the prisoners, an inseparable element of 
their lives. As though the words <e GreteFs tall tits'* sound right 
only coming out of prisoners* mouths and only they ought to 
sing them. 

The parade ground is empty. Harry walks over to the other 
side. He doesn't even feel Ms legs steering him to the waH; 
doesn't even wonder why he's heading there now. Simple. He's 
the medic, and it's his Job to go to the wall and examine the dead. 

The first-is Tedek. 

His Jacket is askew, exposing his mangled body. The trousers 
are shredded, as though the cloth had burst under the thrashing 
lie tad taken, and his mouth, is twisted as though poised to bite 
at someone. He looks directly into Harry's eyes. He's still alive! 
His pulse Isn't beating any mare but he's still alive! You can 

159 



plainly hear Mm. A scream struggles within Mm. The twisted 
mouth doesn't stir, but the scream seems to erupt through, the 
open wound holes on his body. The eyes are alive. They re scream- 
ing to him. Beseeching him to help. 

Tedek! Tedek! . . . 

Block orderlies come out of the block They've already picked 
up their soup, and now they have to carry the corpses into the 
Carrion Shed. They start dragging them. 

**Damn these stinkin* carcasses! Man can't even eat his soup in 
peace!" one of the orderlies hisses through clenched teeth, snatches 
angrily at one of the bodies and starts dragging it by a foot 

"Doc! They're dishin* out the soup in the block/* another says 
servilely as he takes hold of Tedek s foot 

Harry bent over. TLet me" he said, taking Tedek in his arms. 

The dead man was light as a desiccated skeleton. He carried 
him in his arms to the Carrion Shed. Above his arms the sky lay 
over the dead man like a white sheet The SS man was sauntering 
back from the washroom, towel slung over his arm as he ran a 
small comb through the damp hair on the back of his head, care- 
freely whistling and with his wooden clogs beating out the 
rhythm of "Gals I Adore." 

^Seems Doc's got time on his hands/* one of the block orderlies 
whispered to the other. They hurled the corpses one after another 
into the Carrion Shed and hurried back to the block for any soup 
scrapings left on the bottom of the barrel which are traditionally 
the prerogative of the block orderlies. 

He laid Tedek gently on the ground. The dead man looked back 
at him with live eyes. He had never seen Tedek with such live 
eyes here, in the camp. The borderline between life and death 
was all at once completely obliterated. 

He suddenly felt like saying, "Tedek, I've put three boiled po- 
tatoes aside for you in your hutch. See that you eat them tomor- 
row morning before going to work, and take the bread along to 
the Baustelle " 

Ha wanted to tell him, Tedek, honest, you look better than 
ever today.** 

An indomitable wil now looked out of Tedek's eyesmettle, 

160 



manliness, determination. You can see: "The lad knows what he*s 
after and hell make it! 9 The same old Tedekl The same Tedek 
whom he, Harry, had sought in vain throughout their stay to- 
gether in the camp. All Tedek's vanished qualities were now again 
glinting in his eyes, but in all the stark, silent mthlessness that is 
appropriate in the Carrion Shed of Niederwalden. 

In the corners of the shed heads of rats popped up, their round 
black eyes gleaming amazement They were looking directly at 
Harry, trying to figure it out: Is Doc alive, or what? If he's alive 
what the hell's he doing here in the shed? Who's lie trying to ball 
up? What's he butting in for? Do they stick their noses into his 
business in the sick bay? Na-a-a, they take their time. They know 
they have theirs coming to them here. The shed's their stake and 
the corpses are their stake. They're not doing so hot either. Fat 
meal they're going to get here on the crummy scraps that hog of 
a Baustelle leaves them! 

Tedek's body was mauled and mangled. The sore-holes showed 
through his tatters. Hie torn skin on his body was like ripped oil- 
cloth of a toy horse which gives no blood. He bent over Tedek's 
head and with two outstretched fingers drew down his eyelids. 
Only now did Tedek lie dead. His warped mouth now seemed 
like a congealed scream, the last scream of a tortured Mussulman, 
whose pain is more horrible than the most horrible death. 

There is no more Tedek. Never again will he be able to bring 
him into the sick bay. Tedek will never be leaving the camp. The 
last of his hopes now lay on the ground of the Carrion Shed. Only 
now did Harry feel the real horror of TedeFs death. Only now 
did he comprehend it. His hands clenched. **Lef$ revolt as one man 
against the Germans^ 99 Ferber had pleaded. Sanya wouldn't hear 
of it. Not because Sanya was a coward, but because of her over- 
whelming determination that Be, Harry, survive the war. And 
even he couldn't reconcile himself to the idea that after suffering 
so much in the ghetto, Sanya and Daniella should be Mlled by 
German bullets. Now he is here, in the Niederwalden Carrion 
Shed. And what will happen to Mm after all the others have 
passed through this shed? What kind of deafii will the Germans 
concoct for him? Sanya works in a good shop, and D aniella in the 

161 



Labor Commissioner's shoe shop. The feeling that Sanya and Dan- 
iella are outside fills him with exaltation, purifies his suffering as 
through a distillery of martyrdom. Like one whose neck is in the 
noose, and he knows he is about to die so the others may live. Did 
Tedek have anything to reproach himself for? Hadn't he sacri- 
ficed himself for others? "Fm going out of the ghetto to bring life 
to others'' *Ttt pave the way -for you. 99 Hadn't this tormented Mus- 
sulman done all he could, and more? "Til pave the way . . ." Who 
knows, Tedek, what kind of way you are now again paving for us? 

Through the planked door of the Carrion Shed heads of pris- 
oners peer in. They are waiting around impatiently for the medic 
to leave the shed. They want to take the shoes and rags off the 
corpses, and they don't understand: Why's Doc hanging around 
the Carrion Shed today? 

The rats have emerged completely from the corners. They stand 
motionless, looking and waiting: Does he really figure on stick- 
ing around here till the van shows up to haul the carcasses off? 
All right, all right, so respect the dead. But enough's enough! 

Outside, the day was ebbing over the parade ground. Harry 
started toward the block. In the distance stood the prisoners, all 
eyes. He looked up at them. They stood scattered around the pa- 
rade ground, hanging on to his glance. 

The same rats* eyes! The same stares. Rage and nausea swept 
over Mm. 

"Hyenas! Disgusting hyenas!" he raged at them. "Ten in the 
ass for anyone who so much as sets foot in the shed!*" 

They fidgeted and shifted in embarrassment. They were taken 
aback: What's so special today? Why is he suddenly butting into 
none of his affair? One of them looked dumbly at the rags 
wrapped around his feet. He diffidently approached Harry, lifted 
pleading eyes, and barely stammered out in a feeble voice, 
'Whereas the harm, Doc? I work barefooted on sharp rocks all 
day long. If I don't take their things the van will only get them 
anyway. Where's the harm, Doc?" 

He turned away from them, didn't say a word and continued 
toward the block. He could still see the contorted, pleading face 
of the prisoner. It occurred to him that Tedek had sturdy shoes 

162 



on his feet These shoes had been meant to cross the BesMdian 
woods and mountains on the way to the Czech border. Vevke 
must have put all his fatherly warmth into the making of these 
shoes; they held out so long. "Where's the harm, Doc? If I dont 
take their things the van will only get them anyway. . . ? 
He continued with lowered head toward the block 

II 

Near the block entrance was Spitz's flogging bench. Beside the 
bench stood "Red" Itche-Meyer; behind Mm, his son. Spitz had 
one booted foot propped on the bench, his rod in one hand and 
the Cat's memo in the other. He eyed Ms victim the fifty-year- 
old red-haired Itche-Meyer fondling his rod as one who enjoys 
his craft ? and waited for the second prisoner on the list to report 
to the bench. He took another look at the memo and shouted into 
the block: 

"Zanvil Lubliner! Come and get it! Snap to! Twenty in the 
ass!" 

Spitz was a stumpy fellow of about twenty, born in Germany. 
His sister worked in the Labor Commissioner's office in Metro- 
poll, for which Spitz regarded himself as a man of high station. 
When he was sent to labor camp, she probably used her influence 
to get him appointed Jew-Chief. Actually, no one knew if he was 
bom in Germany, or if he really came from Galicia. He himself 
boasted of having been deported here from the old Reich. He 
talked pure SS, had a large hump of a nose, arched like a sickle, 
which gave his face the appearance of a vulture. 

Red Itche-Meyer stood ready. Spitz was looking at Mm, but he 
didn't return the look. They were both aware that after "tweaty- 
in-the-ass" the flogged man will be carried off to the Carrion Shed, 
Red Itche-Meyer's shaved skull was violet Hie flutter of the slen- 
der veins in his temples was visible even at a distance. Along Ms 
emaciated neck ran a bulging vein, like a water-filled hose. Behind 
him stood Ms son, swaying like a man in a prayer trance, cease- 
lessly pinching at the shriveled skin of Ms hands. 

Zanvfl Lubliner emerged from among the wooden hutches. His 

163 



glance stumbled over Harry's. He said nothing, immediately 
looked away from Harry as though ashamed, and continued to- 
ward the bench. Harry felt his blood freeze over. He ran to the 
bench and let out a shout, "No! Zanvfl is a good worker! I've got to 
bandage his wounds now, I won't let him be killed!" 

Spitz took his booted foot off the bench, sheathed the rod in his 
other hand and again drew it out from the clenched fist as a sword 
from a scabbard. He parked himself arms akimbo, like Siegfried, 
the SS man, when he is about to lay into a prisoner. 

"Zanvil! Down on that bench with youP Spitz ordered. 

"No! I say no!" Harry shouted firmly and resolutely. He inserted 
himself between Zanvil and the bench. His chilled blood now 
gushed full strength into his arteries. He felt his arm sinews tight- 
en. Now he was ready for anything: "No! I say NO!" 

"Medic, keep your nose out!" Spitz warned. He shoved the pa- 
per slip into Harry's face. "There, there's the Cat's memo! Who's 
got to answer for it anyway? You or me?" he yelled. 

"Go to the Camp Commander! Make out a complaint. Ill take 
the punishment on myself! You hear? Myself!" 

*Tve got an order and I aim to carry it out. You go complain 
to the Camp Commander. Tell him Tm killing a good worker. But 
watch out, medic. Better do something about that bug up your 
ass!" 

*Not worth it, Preleshnik, not worth it," Zanvil murmured from 
behind Harry, 

T)own, you red carcass!" Spitz swung around to old Itche- 
Meyer. He was furious. It was clear this Jew wasn't going to get 
up from the benck Harry felt that with his own hands he had 
galvanized the rod in Spitz's hands. 

Just then Itche-Meyer's son sprang forward from behind his 
father. He dashed to the bench, flung himself upon it and cried, 
^Jew-Chief ! Have pity! Hog me instead of papa! Dear Jew-Chief! 
Sweet Jew-Chief! Have pity, flog me!" 

Red Itche-Meyer, who all the while had stood like a stone pil- 
lar, suddenly snapped out of it He leaped onto the bench and 
dawed at his son's throat as though meaning to strangle him. 

**Away from here, Pini! Away from here! Be off with you!" 

164 



Sparks flew from Ms eyes, and the bulging vein on Ms neck 
swelled to the point of bursting. "Away, Pint Pini> awayl" lie 
screamed. 

Harry suddenly remembered something. An idea flashed 
through Ms mind. He went up to the Jew-Chief and wMspered 
into Ms ear, "Spitz, I have an H.6* back in the sick bay/* 

"Why didn't you say so in the rst place? . . . Whoresons! 
Back to the hutches with you! Til fix you later!** he bawled with 
feigned anger at the two doomed Je%vs. 

TR.6 W was a privileged German cigarette, available only to 
Reichsdeutsche, which Harry had come by in a strange way. 

That same day, as Harry sat in the sick bay engrossed in 
thought, the kitchen door was flung open and together with the 
ribald German voices someone burst into the dark block and stag- 
gered for the sick bay. Harry wanted to rush up into one of the 
hutches to hide, as he always does when the sounds of drunken 
revelry carry from the German Quarters. But this time he didn't 
quite make it In the sick-bay door he saw the disheveled hair of 
the blond German whom he had seen through the barred lattice 
a while ago. Now she was drunk, half nude and her two fall 
breasts protruded from her open blouse. She regarded him in 
weird rapture, fell at his feet, embraced them with her nude arms, 
and half in weeping, half in ecstasy, blubbered, "Oh Holy One, 
come with me . . " 

The Camp Commander came running in. He tore her off Trfm, 
lifted her from the ground and led her back to the German Quar- 
ters. Along the whole length of the block she continued struggling 
to break back to the sick bay, and didn't stop blubbering; 

"Oh Christ! ... Oh Holy One! . . * 

After a while the Camp Commander returned to the sick bay 
and smiled as he said, ""Well, Physician, you looked pretty scared 
of the blond Magdalen.** 

He pulled out Ms cigarette case, lit himself a cigarette, and be- 
fore the case was bade in his pocket, there tumbled to the floor 
a cigarette, 

TElelax, Physician. You won't be bothered any more,* he said. 

This isn't the first time that such a cigarette "drops'* from the 

165 



Camp Commander's case in Harry's presence. It happens every 
time the Commander comes to inspect the sick bay and finds 
everything to his liking: bottles arrayed on the table with utmost 
precision, in even, symmetrical ranks, like soldiers. He especially 
likes the inventory lists tacked on the wall. He is fascinated by the 
sight of the neat, pearly handwriting and the perfectly straight 
lines drawn there. No remarks to make. Everything is just so. 
Upon which the Camp Commander takes the cigarette case from 
his pocket, lights himself a cigarette and down the floor comes 
rolling an TIG." 

For Harry such a cigarette is a real salvation. He has even de- 
vised an original technique of smoking it He doesn't inhale the 
smoke but eats it. A whole week after getting the cigarette, while 
eating his bread crust, he takes a draw on the cigarette. The 
smoke blends with the chewed bread in his mouth and he swal- 
lows them down together, the smoke with the bread. And ever 
since he first started eating and ever since he first started smoking, 
he has never yet savored such a delicacy. A true ambrosia. Such 
a combination of bread and smoke tarries longer in the stomach. 
The usual way, you don't feel you've swallowed anything. The 
bite passes through the mouth, down the gullet and it's all over. 
As though it had vanished into thin air. And the hunger in the 
stomach and the guts is right back where it started. In fact, now 
it's more insolent than ever. The guts have heard a rumor that 
the mouth has eaten. So they come contracting and converging 
with a gripe: Hey, what's this we hear about the mouth eating? 
Well, where is that grub? What's coming off here? Who's trying 
to pull a fast one on us? 

But when the crust in the mouth is saturated with a draught o 
cigarette smoke, then they all really feel the taste of food: the 
palate, the stomach, the intestines; and the mouth is titillated by 
an aching delight the divine, sweet-toasted savor of the cigarette. 

Now, with Spitz standing with the death rod over the lives of 
the listed two, and there was no way of saving them, Harry sud- 
denly remembered the Camp Commander's gift and his Tl.ff* 
cigarette saved two Jews from the Carrion Shed. 

Zanvil Lubliner stood just behind Harry. When Harry turned 

166 



around, he met Ms glance. Zanvil returned him a moist, tear-laden 
look At first, when he came to the bench, his eyes were brittle as 
clay shards. And now suddenly they are running with tears. Zan- 
vil looked, said nothing, and walked off to his hutch as the Jew- 
Chief had commanded. 

As Harry made his way back to the sick bay, Pini bent over to 
him from his third-tier hutch, strained down toward Trim with 
outstretched head and arms, and sobbed, "Oh, Doc, Doc.** 

That was all he was able to let out. 

Harry continued toward the sick bay. From the other end of 
lie aisle between the hutches, Spitz called across to him, **Ho 5 
Doc! Ill be around to the sick bay after last gong!" 

Harry didn't reply. He continued walking. Near the sick bay he 
heard his name called. He turned his head and saw architect 
Weisblum. 

"Mr. Preleshnik, I thought I'd tell you that at the Baustelle to- 
day, an SS man killed Tedek with a shovel You think maybe from 
today on I could have the half -soup Tedek used to get from you?** 

Harry felt the blood surge into his brain. He bit bis lip, swung 
around, and went into the sick bay. 

He turned on the light Outside stood a long line of sick They 
were waiting for the medic to save them. 



167 



Chapter 12 



It wasn't until late in the day that Danieila felt the pain begin 
to let up. The savage fire which had been raging in her lower ab- 
domen subsided somewhat. The scorching heat that had been 
burned through her vagina still fulgurated and lapped within her 
full strength. The focus of the pain at first concentrated on one 
point where it drilled as with a white-hot drill dulled somewhat 
as the pain spread throughout the body. 

Large beads of sweat streaked down her naked body. She had 
only just become aware of them. Only now did she feel herself 
weltering in the pool of sweat streaming down her own body. She 
lay with upraised, splayed knees fastened to two vertical iron rods 
mounted on the table to which she was strapped. From time to 
time the lower part of her spine irradiated a lacerating pain,, like 
a tongue of flame shooting from an already-smothered fire, and 
raced up into the teeth clenched in the mouth and down to the 
toe-nail tips of the dangling feet. Gradually the intervals between 
one pain stab and another lengthened. But the strapped life with- 
in her always anticipated the stab to come. 

Through the wire screen of her cage she saw in the opposite 
cages girls embroidering red flowers on linen tablecloths. The 
block window was hung with a gaily colored paper curtain. It was 
pinked lacework-f ashion and its center was cut out with figurettes 
and animals, just like the curtains she saw from the distance in 
the windows of the pink blocks the day she got into camp. 

Through a side door two medical orderlies in white smocks 
rolled in a table on small rubber wheels. A girl's hair cascaded 

168 



over the edge of the table. The stillness in the block stood heavy 
and opaque as before. They brought the table up to one o the 
cages, opened the door, pushed the table in, went out and locked 
the cage door behind them. 

Through the main block entrance the German chief physician 
followed by his staff of assistants trooped in. The chief physician's 
face was studious, like the face of a scientist engaged in impor- 
tant research. He was wearing a white, turtle-neck smock, but on 
Ms head was the black SS cap with the death's-head badge in 
front. He went from cage to cage, examining the notations on the 
black slates attached to the screen of each cage. His speech was 
sober, composed, his voice earnest, exactly the way it was when 
he saw on her body the mark of the Master-Kalefactress* knout 

Flogging here, in the German labor camp? . . . 

He went from cage to cage, looking in at the girls, examining 
them from outside the screen, like a scientist observing his guinea 
pigs. The girls didn't look up. They went on embroidering the 
flowers on the tablecloths. 

In the row of cages opposite were the girls whose experiments 
lasted for extended periods: artificial insemination, twin insemina- 
tion, miscarriages, premature deliveries, and various methods of 
castration and sterilization. The row of cages on the left belonged 
to the Surgical Experiment Department Here the girls were re- 
placed very quickly; they didn't last long. Female organs were 
removed from their bodies and replaced with artificial ones. On 
them were tried all sorts of poison tablets, which German pharma- 
ceutical concerns sent to the chief physician to be tested on hu- 
mans. Naturally, the concerns paid handsomely for the experi- 
ments, at rates fixed by the chief physician. 

Here was the camp's "Science Institute.** The Institute was hid- 
den in a side path among beds of crimson blossoms. Even the 
barbed wire here was bedecked with fragrant creepers. Admit- 
tance was strictly forbidden to outsiders, 

INSTITUTE FOUR HYGIENE AND SC3DENTEFTC BESE&BGH declared a 

small sign outside. 

Whenever a new transport arrived at the Joy Division, the {^rk 
would go through tike Surgery Block of the Science Institute, 

169 



which was emptied out to receive them, and here they were all 
sterilized in one batch. By the next day, they were all ready to be 
admitted to the Joy Division. Since Daniella was an extraordinary 
case, she was sterilized in the Research Block, in a cage which 
happened to be available that day, 

The chief physician came up to Daniella's cage followed closely 
by his assistants. Here he stopped and studied Daniella. 

. . . Schultze! Schultze in his black Gestapo cap aiming the tip 
of his cane at her eyes! She's lying on the ground in the woods. 
. . . Another minute and Schultze will inflict a horrible death on 
her , . 

Through the wire screen, the eyes of those standing outside 
looked in at her as into the cage of some rare creature in a zoo. 
She was lying naked, her parted knees still strapped to the iron 
rods at both sides of the table. In the hand of one of the assistants 
she saw the same instrument which they had that morning in- 
serted deep into her vagina. Her body shuddered instinctively. 

. . . the instrument reaches out to her eyes like Schultze's cane. 
Now they re going to bring Harry in. They'll hold him tight, make 
him watch what they do to her . . . She wanted to scream, but, 
as in the dream, the screams stuck in her throat. Her strapped life 
writhed within her. Her whole body trembled. 

The chief physician looked at her with benign eyes and said 
soothingly, "Now, now. Tomorrow youll be out of here/* And 
turning to leave, he finished the sentence toward the assistants: 
The Jungs * will be pleased with her. . . J 9 

From the adjacent room the SlovaMan doctor came in. She held 
a glass jar in her hand. Inside the jar a bloody chunk of flesh, 
shaped like a human heart, floated in clear liquid. She handed the 
jar to the chief physician. He held it up against the light of the 
window, examined the organ through the glass of the jar. He then 
went up to the cage where the girl who had been wheeled in was 
lying. He looked alternately at her and at the excised organ float- 
ing in the jar. Then, with white chalk, he drew over the whole 
surface of the black slate attached to her cage, two lines forming 
an X that is to say: Everything entered on the slate is hereby null 
boys. 

170 



and void. The Experiment-Unit will die. Tomorrow the cage is to 
be available. 

The chief physician was grave. He pointed out Daniella's cage 
to the Slovalcian doctor. "The treatment has to be completed 
there/' he said. "Tomorrow the cage must be vacant. 7 ' He went out 
of the block, his assistants respectfully and deferentially at Ms 
heels. 

The block was all silence, as if there were not a living person 
in it why hadn't she heard her own screams when the Slova- 
kian doctor lit the fire inside her belly? She could clearly feel her- 
self screaming as though she had screamed into a deep vacuum- 
No one here let out a sound. It was still as in an underground 
aquarium. The cages lined the whole length of the block walls, 
looking like cages with drowsy animals who had been brought in 
for tie day into a temporary tent of a traveling circus. Now they 
are resting. At night they will be put on show to the crowds. 

Nurses came in carrying trays, loaded with white and red bowls. 
They wore white linen shoes; their steps were inaudible. Silently 
they approached each cage, opened the door, set down a bowl 
of food, locked the door. So from cage to cage. By the notations 
on the black slates they knew where they should place which 
color bowl, and with which cage they were not even to bother. 
In the X-marked cages they knew it was a waste to put any food. 
Better save the portions for the cages of the Experiment-Units 
with the pregnant bellies. 

The creature in the isolated cage stares tensely through the 
screen. It can't wait for its bowl of food to be put in. The eyes 
stare dumb and imbecilic from under long., bushy eyebrows, and 
the mouth is mute. When it was installed in the cage, it was a 
lovely young girl in her bloom. Now it looks like a mummy un- 
wrapped from its shrouds. The brow is pointed, the hair growth 
abnormal and its complexion bizarre. The face is plowed with 
wrinkles, like the meat of a* walnut. No indication on this creature 
whether it is male or female. It looks more Mke a man. Its be- 
havior is normal, like a denizen of this planet, which belongs, 
however, to some ancient, primeval era. As though the Germans 
had succeeded in resurrecting their Neanderthal Man. 

171 



Tlie Slovakian doctor returned from a nearby room. She opened 
Daniella's cage. The treatment has to be completed. The cage 
must be available tomorrow. Her every movement tells how riled 
she is. Apparently, she still hasn't forgotten the Hck in the belly 
she got from the Camp Commander because of Daniella. An- 
grily she jerks open the leather straps on Daniella's arms and up- 
raised knees, pulls a blood-test syringe out of the breast pocket of 
her white tunic, jabs it irritably into Daniella's arm and snarls, "So, 
it wasn't good enough for you in the Labor Division, eh? You just 
had to come here! Well, the soldiers here 7 !! teach you!" 

Inside the glass tube of the hypodermic needle rose the crimson 
liquid: Her blood! She looked at it. The sapped-out blood sud- 
denly became terribly close. It seemed to her they are now ex- 
tracting her most intimate, 1 * r aal essence her life! The inner- 
most within her, which she herself has never seen, is now being 
transfused into the glass tube. They're going to turn her into a 
crimson creature! Queer red hair! A pointed brow! They will seal 
her in a glass jar and there she will float about for all eternity. 

The doctor completed the treatment She went out and slammed 
the cage shut behind her. 

Daniella lies on the table unstrapped, but she feels herself un- 
able to move a limb. "The soldiers will teach you , . , the soldiers 
will teach you . , . the soldiers ** 

, . . a trolley jammed with girls . . , midnight ... a yellow 
bulb burning overhead . . . the hanging straps swaying to and 
fro, to and fro . . . "13" presses a girl against his body and his 
hoarse Germanic voice jeers: "The soldiers will teach you/* "If 
you knew where you're being taken, you wouldn't be struggling 
out of my arms now . . /* 

Slowly she sat up on the table. From the opposite side the white 
X stared back at her from the black slate on the cage of the girl 
who had been wheeled in before. The head of the girl tossed and 
turned without cease from side to side, to and fro, to and fro, like 
the hangbg straps on the trolley ceiling. Her eyelids were shut 
tight From time to time her mouth twisted into a grimace of hor- 
rible nausea, or as though she were screaming in a horror dream. 
But not a sound issued from her throat Daniella scrutinized liar 

172 



closely. The face looked so familiar. Where has she seen this face? 
She just couldn't place it. 

In the opposite cages the girls with the pregnant bellies were 
embroidering red flowers on white tablecloths. They didn't raise 
their eyes from the linen. Their hands worked flick, lick, and sud- 
denly halted, with the needle half stuck in the linen. Again flick, 
flick, and again halt As though their thought had suddenly 
snagged. The block was still as an underground aquarium. Girl- 
hands-like little fish, darting flick, flick, and suddenly halt, ab- 
sorbed. 

... of course! This is the girl who had lain next to her on the 
ground in the Assembly Block the night they got here! The same 
girl who had explained the mer-nfc^ <*f the German word FELB- 
HUKE on their flesh: "Well "he **-;; ipirty of the German govern- 
ment, the way my father's horses became the property of the 
Polish government From now on we wotft have to worry about 
a thing/' she said. "The Germans will take care of us. They'll feed 
us and nobody will be allowed to harm us any more/* 

Now she lies there in the cage, and the organ which had vital- 
ized her budding maidenhood like the lush seed of a fruit-bearing 
tree now floats in a transparent Jar in the room of the German 
chief physician. Maybe he will succeed in transplanting this up- 
rooted chunk of life into the belly of a German woman, and there 
the organ will go on living, bringing its fruit to the world many 
more German scientists like himself. 

"Till the end of the war we'll belong to the Gemmm . . .* For 
this one lying there the war is over. The white X all over the 
black slate above her head certifies that Her pain is gagged with- 
in her. The Eesearch Block doctor had delimited it: It may go as 
far as her throat, but no further. She is silent, as all, the others here 
are silent In the Research Block it must be quiet Absolutely 
quiet So as not to disturb the research being conducted here for 
the benefit of civilization. 

INSTITDTE FOR HYGIENE AND SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH. 

Outside stretched lovely vistas of trees and blossoms. The block 
walk were steeped in roses. The roses were red, and from the dis- 
tance the German Science Block seemed afloat on a blood laka 

173 



Chapter 13 



Joy Division. 

Hero, in the rose-tinted blocks, there was no flogging. Here they 
kept close watch over the girls' bodies to keep them whole, un- 
damaged. Here, when a girl was flogged she was not permitted to 
return to the Joy Division. She was immediately tossed on the van 
and Off to the crematorium! 

Here every girl got a new outfit. Every week clean underwear. 
Compared to the food in the Labor Division it really was paradise 
here, as Renya Zeidner had said. But the girls who lapsed into sin 
in this paradise received a "report.** Just a "report." Sinners with 
three such "reports'* were led out, usually with the arrival of a 
new transport, to the Execution Square, where Elsa, the Master- 
Kalefactress, cleansed the sin out of their bodies. Sin Purgation 
it was called. Upon which the purgated bodies were tossed on the 
van: Let the other maidens of paradise behold and beware of sin. 

Here, every day, at two o'clock, German soldiers, on their way 
to the Russian front, came from the nearby transit depots to en- 
tertain themselves with the girls of the Doll House. The girls had 
to put their all into the satisfaction of their esteemed guests. If 
such a guest was not satisfied with the "enjoyment," he had only 
to report it, on leaving, in the orderly room and give the girl's 
breast number. After three such "reports" the girl was automati- 
cally doomed: She hadn't duly appreciated the great honor be- 
stowed upon her; she had made light of the honor of a German 
waniorl 

Elsa, the Master-Kalef actress, is a pure-blooded German from 

174 



Diisseldorf. The green criminal-triangle patch, on her brown 
sweater denotes that before the war she had been sentenced to 
life imprisonment. What crimes had earned her tills penalty no 
one in the camp knows. What is known is that when the Germans 
established this camp, they took her from prison and brought her 
here to serve as Master-Kalefactress. And the choice turned out 
to be a happy one the right person in the right vocation. 

Elsa of Diisseldorf is now the almighty suzeraine over the 
dwellers of the Joy Division. The crude stitching of several knife 
slashes on her face makes it difficult to determine her age. She 
has a tall, slender frame, which she is constantly trying to empha- 
size by wearing tight-fitting riding breeches, which she tucks into 
her boots cavalry style. She has two narrow sits for eyes, clamped 
lips and a long, dark, scar-ridden face that is constantly aflame 
with unsated sexual desire and violent jealousy. It may very well 
have been her monstrous outward appearance that had made her 
a leading candidate for this post 

It's possible that men had always shunned Elsa. Her lacerated 
face may even be a souvenir of that, But here, in the Joy Division, 
where she is almighty ruler, Elsa is consumed with jealousy of her 
subjects and gives them the brunt of it. During Enjoyment Duty 
she roams through the blocks, craving to draw the attention 
of the German guests. When they arrive in camp, she greets them 
in front of the blocks, struts her pure-German pedigree before 
them. She puts a black satin band on the other sleeve, too, for all 
to see from all sides just who and what she is here in the Joy Di- 
vision. But if s no use. Not one of the soldiers is receptive to her 
overtures. They spurn her and choose to go into the blocks to her 
despised serfs. 

For such carryings on the almighty suzeraine has already taken 
a public flogging. She once set upon one of the* guests and tried 
to bend him to her desire. The soldier extricated himself from her 
violent embrace, spit in her ace, and went into the orderly room 
to complain. Out came Yaga, the blond Camp Commander, and 
with the braided knout in Tier hand let the panting Master-Kale- 
factress have it across the Lead. Elsa took the flaying in silence. 
Only her lips writhed wildly and her eye slits shot arrows o hate 

175 



at the Blond Beast. She loiew that Yaga goes every few days to 
her lover the commander of the nearby labor camp in Nieder- 
walden to cool her own lust But she also knew that she must 
take the flogging in silence. For to Yaga, Elsa was just another 
prisoner. Later, Elsa took out the lashing on the girls whose sole 
ruler she was. 

During Enjoyment Duty Elsa roams through the blocks, osten- 
sibly to see if the girls are applying themselves properly and giv- 
ing their guests full satisfaction. She observes the girls as they lie 
under the soldiers, eager to catch them at the sin of "indifference." 
She reminds the guests that they may complain about it; that in 
camp headquarters such indifference calls for a "report." 

Elsa wanted to slake the fires of her lust with the blood of the 
girls. Indeed, the height of her pleasure was in purgating the girls* 
bodies of sin in the Execution Square, 

After Enjoyment hours, when the Germans have left the camp, 
Elsa stalks through the camp like a frenzied beast in heat. The 
girls all quake in terror. First the Germans, now Elsa. Out of one 
hell and into the next. Every so often Elsa gets hold of one of the 
girls, drags her into her room, throws herself upon her and sniffs 
all over her body, drinking into her nostrils the scent of the man 
who had just detached himself from the girL Woe betide the girl 
who does not fulfill all Elsa's desires. Elsa knows how to make 
such a girl reach a state where she will automatically get a "re- 
port'* But who is the girl who can gratify the bottomless passion 
of Elsa of Diisseldorf ? 

There is no measuring Elsa's elation when it is given to her to 
announce to a girl that she has used up all her "reports.** Her eyes 
heat up in glee. The girl stands hypnotized. Both Elsa and the 
girl sense that the victim now belongs completely to Elsa: both 
her body and her soul have now passed irrevocably into the title 
of the Master-Kalefactress. Elsa's mouth goes into weird contor- 
tions. Her thin lips bare tiny, sparse teeth. She fixes the girl with 
the eyes of a python about to entwine its prey, and with diabolic 
slowness rolls out the words: 

TH purify you . . . Now you are mine ... All mine ... HI 
porify you proper . . . But first, come with me . . .* 

176 



Tlie girl stands transfixed. Elsa's eyes axe inside her eyes. She 
can't wriggle free of the eyes. She does not scream. She does not 
weep. She does not flee. She stares at Elsa's face and sees in it 
the Execution Square. The picture of Sin Purgation is familiar 
to her in every detail. She has seen it more than once. Now she is 
numb. Elsa's arms wrap themselves around her. The hands paw 
her whole body, draw her up against the brown sweater. Words 
reach her ears from Elsa's twisted mouth as out of the depths of 
hell. 

"I will purify you . . . Purify you . . . But first come with me 
into my room . . r 

Elsa of Diisseldorf walks, leading her victim pressed close 
against her body. Both take heavy steps, as in a trance. They pace 
toward the room as if going there to perform a ritual; as though 
there, in Elsa's chamber, were the sanctuary of the New Human 
Civilization. 



II 



When Daniella reached the square of the Joy Division, Tzivia 
of Chebin ran to her. She is anxious to know how her sister 
Hanna is getting along in the Labor Division, from where Dan- 
iella is now coming. 

For a moment Daniella stood there dumbfounded. She was not 
prepared for such a question. The Research Block had made her 
forget completely the Labor Division. But hardly had Tzivia 
sounded the name TEanna" than the scene came back to her as 
though it were just happening; Hanna dung over the rails and 
Henfechel the Moon placidly circling her body, and with the 
shovel handle laying, by tarn, into her elbows, her feet, "her head- 
waiting for her to scream. Scream all the more. But scream. The 
more harrowing, the more heart-reading^ the better Hentsdfael 
will like it As though Hanna's screams were music to his ears. 
Hannahs cries again resounded in Daniella*s ears as though Hanna 
were now screaming here, right beside hat: 
in Jwamn! God in heaven! . . . ** 
177 



Daniella stood there dumbfounded. Tzivia looked directly at 
her mouth, waiting for a reply. 

"What is it, Daniella? What's happened?** Tzivia asked fright- 
ened, 

Daniella shook herself instinctively, like one coming to after 
a stunning blow on the head. She remembered that Tzivia had 
asked her a question and snapped: 

"What do you mean liow is Hanna getting along? She's work- 
ing, like all the others." She wondered why the words came out 
of her mouth so crossly. 

Tve heard they work very hard there. How does Hanna feel 
during work? She's so weak!" Tzivia added with great concern. 

By the outlet of the lake girls sit scrubbing their eating utensils. 
On the bridge stands the SS sentry, gun propped on the railing, 
barrel pointed at the girls. Red bulbs gleam on the poles of the 
barbed-wire wall, indicating that the wires are charged with high 
tension. To the right range the rosy blocks; girls go in and out of 
them. Through the narrow spaces whiting between the blocks 
shows the barbed-wire wall running on the other side of the Joy 
Division. From afar it seems to have sprouted from the earth to- 
gether with the crimson flowers. Just beyond the barbed wire are 
the Labor Division; the Baustelle. Kenya Zeidner there is surely 
thinking of her now: So she's also gone over to the Doll House! 
Now shell also be getting two soups every day, gorge herself on 
the sausage and margarine which by rights belong to the Labor 
Division girls! And when they lead her off naked to the Execution 
Square, her eyes will bump into Kenya Zeidner's eyes through the 
double barbed-wire mesh. Renya will then see how stuffed she is. 
Renya will look. No! Just don't let her look at her that way! Ken- 
ya's eyes pierce her through and through. She can't bear that look. 
She's being led naked to the stools in the Execution Square and 
Kenya's eyes look with scorn and loathing 

THow does Hanna feel there during work?" Tzivia repeated, her 
eyes still on her, 

Daniella wants to avert this horrible conversation. She feels she 
just cant bear it The wire fences and the block roofs swim before 
her eyes. Another minute and shell slump to the ground. 

178 



4< Hanna-feels-like-all-tlie-otIiers! w she blurts. 

Tve made up my mind to go over to Manna/* Tzivia said. "I 
don't want to stay here, even if they Mil me. 1 want to be together 
with my sister. I won't stay in all this wickedness!" 

Daniella turned frightened eyes upon her: 

Tzivia, have you gone out of your mind? Tzivia, for pity's 
sake!" 

Tve already told the Master-Kalefactress about it," she says. 

Daniella seized her with both hands: "And what did the Mas- 
ter-Kalefactress tell you?" 

"When I have three 'reports* shell send me to Hanna," Tzivia 
innocently repeated the Master-Kalefactress' words. 

Daniella did not as yet know what "report" meant. 



HI 



Seven o'clock in the morning is Bed-Building Parade in the 
rosy blocks. Elsa, the Master-Kalefactress, and her staff inspect 
the beds to see if they have been Tbuilt" according to regulation. 
Here, in the Joy Division, the bed reigns sacred and supreme. And 
the maidens of paradise are its keepers. 

At the foot of each bed is marked the number branded in the 
flesh of the bed's guardian. And here Elsa has a wide scope to 
cause things to take such a turn, that during Enjoyment Duty the 
girl won't be able to help getting a ^report." 

Fifty beds to a block, twenty-five to a waH, opposite each other, 
and a clear aisle down the center. At the head of each bed, a 
narrow closet, for the clothes of the nobility coming here for En- 
joyment High in the closet, a single shelf, for the girl's eating 
utensils. To insure the cleanliness of the utensils, every morning 
at ten o'clock there is Utensil Parade, God help the girl whose 
utensils show up with so much as a speck, whose spoon is not laid 
out stricdy according to the book, the smell of whose bowl is not 
entirely to Eka's taste. Such a thing means; The owner of the 
utensil has been incooadarate of the esthetic sensibilities of her 
Mgfa-born guests, who also avail themselves of the closet For such 

179 



a sin Elsa has unique penalties of her own, which sooner or later 
are sure to impel the girl to a "report." 

Very early in the morning, with the first knell of the gong, there 
is great agitation in the blocks; Bed-Building! Each girl works 
feverishly bent over her bed, hands frantic with fear: Will her 
Bed-Building pass today? Will she succeed? And if she fails? 

"Help me, God! Help me, God!" the lips flutter as the hands 
scramble about building the bed, and the tears drop and are up- 
holstered into the long, narrow death litters. 

Hie bed looks like a narrow, long chest It is filled with wood 
shavings covered with a dark gray blanket, the mattress. Over 
that, a second blanket for covering; and at the head, a pillowcase 
filled with shavings. To all appearances that is all. But how many 
blameless budding lives has the bed devoured in the mere Build- 
ing! For it is a solemn duty to build it in strict accordance with 
the principles of German punctiliousness. And standing firm on 
the discharge of this duty is Elsa of Diisseldorf. 

First of all, the lower blanket the mattress that is to say is re- 
quired to be smooth as a mirror. Not a dent, not a bulge, evened 
out as with a carpenter's level. Consequently, first come the shav- 
ings, which, from being lain upon day and night, form kinky 
lumps here and hollow dips there. But this you can't explain to 
anyone in paradise, for neither Yaga, the Blond Beast, nor Elsa of 
Diisseldorf sleeps on wood shavings, nor do they ever "build" a 
bed. That is done for them by the kalefactresses in attendance 
upon them. 

And now, the strictest regulation of all: The mattress-blanket 
must be exactly four inches higher than the frame of the chest- 
bed. Precisely 4.0. Not a hairsbreadth more or less. So that 
together with the upper blanket the **build** should not be more 
than five inches above the side boards. The inches are punctilious- 
ly drawn on each bedpost 

4.0 inches. 

The terrifying 4.0 inches of Bed-Building. 

Finally, the upper blanket must spread level and smooth over 
the whole length of the bed, escarp at the pillow and lap over it 
in two lines parallel, sharp, angular, like tin sheets. And to crown 

ISO 



it all, a horrible death is in store if, God forbid, a hair or wisp of 
shaving is found on the upper blanket. 

THE BED THE HOLY OF HOLIES ! A sign blares the warning from 
the wall of each block. 

Every morning at seven Elsa and her cohort come trooping in 
for inspection. The girls stand at taut, erect attention, each by the 
bed of her keeping. The bed now becomes an integral part of her 
body, a vital organ in which the whole nervous system is concen- 
trated. Her life now folds itself into the dark, narrow bed chest 
They become onethe girl and her bed. One number identifies 
them both. And the heart no longer thumps in the breast, but 
there, in the long narrow bed. And the terror no longer throbs in 
the body, but there, in the dark line where the blanket escarps the 
pillow the 4.0-inch line. 

"Help me, God! Help me, God!" the heart entreats from inside 
the bed. 

Elsa stops by the first bed, goes down on one knee, shuts her 
right eye, aims her left eye down the row of beds. The pillow-line 
of the first bed must be perfectly aligned with the pillow-line of 
the twenty-fifth bed. She's a pure-blooded German, is Elsa of 
Diisseldorf . She knows what German precision is and shell teach 
it to this shit nation, the Jewish whores. 

If a bed is found out of line, Elsa immediately orders the num- 
ber of the bed entered in the book. Elsa delights in the mere ut- 
tering of the order. And while her clerk writes, Elsa eyes her vic- 
tim with her narrow eye-slits, arms folded across her chest, one 
booted leg thrust forward, her mouth writhing. She smirks, baring 
her stubby Jags of teeth, whose gaps are blacker than the teeth are 
white. And if fate has pointed to a beautiful girl aahl Elsa hates 
beautiful girls to the death. 

After inspection, Elsa assembles the Bed-Building victims and 
orders them to knee-bend: squat, knees bent, hands clasped 
around the nape, rump not to dare touch the ground. The girls 
must sit this way from early morning until Enjoyment Duty at two 
o'clock, when the 'Germans come to the Do! House to "enjoy.** 

After such a knee-bend the girls are incapable of moving an arm 
or a leg. The whole body is one knot of pain which cannot bear 

18J 



touching. The girls are incapable of straightening their legs., let 
alone walking. They have to be led. And thus, slumped against 
their comrades, they are dragged to their beds, to perform their 
task at Enjoyment Duty. 

No wonder, then, that the noble guest later complains to the 
orderly room: The "number" didn't satisfy him. The Enjoyment 
was a flop. The girl wasn't sweet to him. Treated him with indif- 
ference. 

Sure he took down the number. Here. And he turns the number 
over to the office. 

"Report 9 ! 

Bed-Building Parade is followed by other Parades. Eating- 
Utensil Parade; Smock Parade. To each parade its victims, and 
Elsa impels her victims to a state where they will bring '"reports" 
on themselves. And so on, and on. 

And Elsa of Diisseldorf is not to be sated. 



182 



14 



Enjoyment Duty. 

There is not a sound in the block. The girls sit, each on her bed, 
legs propped on the floor. Fifty beds, in two single files, with fifty 
girls seated backs to each other. No one had decreed this seating 
arrangement They seem to be sitting this way deliberately, so 
their glances should not meet Fear is contagious. Soon they will 
be called upon to smile. The smile is not optional. The smile 
attests to the girfs attitude to Enjoyment Her life depends on 
the smile. Soon they will be called upon to be happy. 

There is not a sound in the block 

For a while yet they are permitted to commune with fear, with 
this thing about to take place here. Now they are still permitted 
to feel the horror of what awaits them. And they abandon them- 
selves to the open arms of f ear* which any moment will have to 
give way to the Germans. Soon their f aces will wear smiles. Use 
noble German guest hasn't come here to look at sad eyes. He has 
come to Enjoy! To get his bucketful of joy! That clear to the 
Doll? If not Hell make it dear to her! First of all, let* s have the 
number! He wants a copy of the number in Ms pocket Just for 
the heck of it Afterwards, when he passes by the orderly roam, 
heU think it over. But just now, with her brand number already 
fotted down in his pocket, let the Doll be so good 'as to love him 
tip! The way he Ikes it! With gusto! Gay does it! He wants to 
get his fil of her just the way lie washes down a mug of Prassxaa 
beer, wMte foam and afl. 

183 



Outside, the gong booms 

Two o'clock. 

It's time. 

There is not a sound in the block. Fifty girls as i they had 
nothing to say to each other. Fifty bedslike fifty stools arrayed 
on the Execution Square before the naked bodies are strapped 
to them. 

Outside, German voices are approaching. Elsa is screeching 
final orders to the kalefactxesses, drowning out the Germans* 
ribaldry. Maybe that will help draw their attention and serve 
them notice just who and what she is here. Even Yaga lingers on 
the square in front of the blocks. They hustle and bustle and 
shout outside like stage directors before curtain time on opening 
night Any moment now the block gate will open, and the Ger- 
mans will come in. 

Fifty bedslike fifty before the firing squad, standing motion- 
less in a straight row, staring into the gun muzzles, waiting for the 
bullet to pierce the heart silent They have nothing to say to 
each other. 

Every day. At exactly two o'clock. 

Daniella looks at the back of the girl sitting on the bed in front 
of her: the thin, blue pinstripes of the smock dazzle her eyes. 
The girl's hair streams down to her nape as the stripes on her 
back lift from the smock, up, up, now covering the hair as well, 
withdraw from the back, hover in mid-air. All at once the stripes 
look like bars ... a cage . . . the girl is sitting in a barred 
cage . . . the stripes on the backs of all the girls suddenly with- 
draw and are like bars . . . two rows of cages ... in each cage 
a girl's back, motionless, waiting for the chief physician to come 
and perform scientific research on her body . . . 

Stillness. As though the air were clogged. The German voices 
reach in from beyond the block window as though it all were 
happening far, far away, and they, themselves, were in that far- 
away. The knells of the gong roll out of the sky under their 
echoes, as cloaked in long black capes. The knells drift earth- 
ward, the trains of their capes trailing across the rooftops and 
covering the rosy blocks as with a shroud of black Darkness. 

184 



But she feels the gong knells are looking in at her through the 
block window together with the German voices. They guffaw * . . 
the girls* heads spin before her eyes like wheels . . . wheels of 
a night trolley down Kongressia's drowsing streets . . . wheels 
of locomotives . . . WHEELS AWAY TO VICTORY! . . Jeering faces 
of conductors . . . She is in her room . . and now she is in 
Metropoli station among the girls of the transport . . . **Dani, 
why are you going away?" "To bring you a present, my pet* The 
wheels grind clangorously into rails. Knives cut the wheels she 
will grab a knife and slash the German's body when he's lying 
on her. The knife slashes and rips and the Germans blood spurts 
onto her breasts, over her branded number. Night Crimson night. 
The streets of Kongressia are fast asleep, but the iron wheels of 
the night trolley grind with terrific clangor along the tracks. She 
stabs and slashes with the knife, and the blue Inscription FELD- 
HDBE is red, flooded with German blood. Her fingers are sticky 
with blood and her eyes see the letters FELD-HCBE flooded with 
blood, the way the JXJDE branded on the brow of Sfalamek's father 
brimmed over with blood. Blood for blood. German blood 

The door bursts open. The block fills with Germans. Uproar. 
Commotion. Countless black boots. A seething caldron. German. 
Shouts. Guffaws. No more bars. No cages. Everything unloosed, 
No wheels. The round head of the girl slumped back on the bed- 
head 

Enjoyment Duty. 

At Daniella's bed, the German hangs his Jacket in the closed 
In the adjacent bed, the girl looks right into the German's eyes. 
She smiles but her smile weeps, as though she had drawn it out 
of a jar of tears where it had been soaking. The girl's eyes rake 
through the German's countenance, trying to divine as by face- 
reading: What does this face have in store for her today? Is there 
a human spark hidden behind it? She searches for the spark. She 
wants so to find it, hold on to it, reach out a hand to it like a 
drowner. Her life is now in his hands. She now belongs to Mm* 
all of her. He will express his opinion about her. His opinion an 
irrevocable verdict. Will he sate himself, like the beast gorging 
down its prey, grunting and going its way, or will he let her have 

185 



a "report" just for kicks, so as not to miss out on this extra plea- 
sure? 

Daniella's ears are clogged. The bawdy German shouts reach 
into her ears as from a great distance, like the wild echoes of a 
cannibal chant. She knows her hair is being pulled at, but she 
feels no pain. Her eyes are shut, but she sees the lacework of the 
curtains hung over the block windows with the figurettes cut out 
in their center. The figurettes are white with daylight, "German 
soldiers will teach you!" Out of the loud debauchery rises the 
hoarse, heavy voice of the German croaking into her ear. Her 
eyes are shut The voice has a rubicund, drunken f ace, a leather 
jacket: *13" . . . The same curtains ... as in the Research 
Block windows . . "German soldiers will teach you! . . " 
The face of the Neanderthal mummy is lying on her, pawing her, 
licking her face. She lies bound as in the cage, knees astraddle, 
unable to move a limb. Can't escape. Sparks. Yellow sparks spurt- 
ing from red circles. The mummy covers her. She feels his smell. 
His mouth is ajar. Huge bare teeth, like a beast's. His fingers dig 
into her body Mke a crab's pincers. The chief physician looks in 
at her in the cage, fais eyes smile benignly. She lies strapped to 
the table rods. She can't stir. Schultze sends his long cane at her. 
The rubber tip nears her eye. Any moment and it will pierce her 
eye, suck out her life. Schultze sniggers. He wears a black SS 
cap. Schultze he's the chief physician. His face looks very grave 
as he turns to the Germans behind him in Yablova woods and 
says, "The 'Jwzgs 9 will be pleased with her." The girls in the cages 
opposite embroider red blossoms on linen tablecloths. An unfin- 
ished blossom like the smashed head of the history teacher in 
the blood puddle . . . She wants to scream. Her head tosses from 
side to side, like the girl whose organ was torn out of her and 
put in the Jar. She opens her mouth wide, wants to scream, but 
cannot. She is afraid. The fear plugs her throat like a cork. Down 
in her belly a pain flashes like a tongue of flame leaping from an 
ash, pile . . The SlovaMan doctor sticks in a hypodermic needle. 
The blood rises in the glass tube. "German soldiers will teach 
you." "The "Jungs 9 will be pleased with her" The red blossoms 
are scattered, as though carelessly strewn on the white tablecloth. 

186 



"Dani is like a bud. When she opens, her beauty will take the 
breath away . . /* "Of course I said you're my beautiful i?Io&- 
som . . r 

On the curtains covering the block windows the sky plays a 
strange image-game: people ranning frantically in the thick of a 
forest . . . 

In a nearby bed the German gets up, makes ready to leave. 
The girl's arms, white and naked, cling to him. Her face twists 
into a smile as her lips whisper, "Please sir, was the gentleman 
satisfied?"* 

The German shoves her away, spits, walks off. The girl sits 
there, her naked white arms hanging spiritlessly from her knees. 
She looks to him. He is going away, carrying in his pocket the fate 
of her polluted life. The Execution Square looms before her eyes. 
She looks, looks. The German is already gone, and she is still 
looking to him 

Was he? ... 

II 

. . . tonight . . . after the last gong ... it must be done to- 
night! Daniella decides. 

The block is tidy y hushed, empty, as if there were not a Eving 
soul there. Any moment and the lights will go out. Any moment 
and the last gong will sound. After the last gong everyone is re- 
quired to sleep. One of those camp regulations. The Germans are 
concerned with the girls* welfare. They must be hale and fresh 
tomorrow at two. 

The two rows of beds reach into the center of the block like 
two rows of corpses laid out by the walls* feet straight, rigid. 

To sleep! 

But now, of all times, the Execution Square sprawls before tibe 
eyes. Of all times now, when each is alone in her bed com- 
muning with herself , the heart takes stock of the day past and 
senses the dread of tibe "report* lurMng in the marrow, 

To deep! After the last gong everyone is required to sleep. But 
how subject sleep to German edict? How decree sleep to come 

187 



and eclipse with its wings the visions of Germans and Execution 
Square swarming ceaselessly beneath the shuttered eyelids? How 
make sleep lull the death trepidation of the body? 

. . . though if s only a blindman's-bufl with fate. There are girls 
here with two "reports." They're called TLucMes." They've been 
around a long time. They have outlived many girls who got here 
when they already had their two "reports." In fact, it's a camp 
tradition that the TLucMes" will live to be liberated. Even so, in 
their beds at night, they tremble about tomorrow more than the 
others. They delve and dig and delve some more in the face of 
the German. Try their hardest to recall his every word, his every 
gesture, his every glance as he leaves: Are they going to live? 
Was he satisfied? . . . 

It's easy to believe in the camp tradition when it's not your 
own life in the balance. 

. . . tonight! After the last gong, when the lights are out in the 
blocks. She'll go out to the latrine. From there it's not far to the 
lake. The water will enfold her. The water will rinse her body 
and pnrify it. The water will rinse her eyes and quench the fire 
raging in her head. She will lie deep, deep on the bottom of the 
lake, the way she's lying here, on the bed, only there it will be 
peaceful, soft, free. The lake water won't stop streaming over her 
naked body and will cleanse it inside and out. She'll be pure, 
light, free. 

Now it's prohibited to leave the blocks* Now, between the 
second and last gong, it's prohibited even to go to the latrine. 
The sentry will shoot her and get his bonus three days* leave. 
"A Doll was making for the barbed wire," hell report. No, only 
not to be shot in front of the blocks! . . . The girl had lain in 
front of Block 8 until dawn that time, and her groans all night 
nearly drove them all crazy. Only not to get shot in front of the 
blocks . . . 

Everybody here is going to get "reports." Everybody will be 
taken to the Execution Square. Not a single one will be left The 
Germans will kill them all at the last minute, and no one will ever 
know what kind of camp there had been here. Tomorrow, the 
day after, shell also be taken to Purgation. Where do they take 

188 



all those tossed on the van? What do they do to them at the place 
they're taken to? What Mod of death is picked out for them 
there? Tonight! She's not waiting for them to take her to the 
Execution Square and toss her on the van. It must be tonight! 
But It won't happen tonight either. She won't carry it through 
this tune, just as she didn't any of the other nights. Like all the 
other girls, shell wait till the van comes to take her away. If only 
Vevke hadn't stopped her from buying the cyanide pills at the 
shoe-shop canteen, she would have sneaked out to the road be- 
tween Jew-Quarter I and Jew-Quarter 3, and In one of the clefts 
of the mountain would have swallowed them and be done with 
it! How peaceful it was there. So bright It would have been good 
just to sit there, in a hidden nook, and look out If only they had 
let her Hve there, she could have gone on staying there forever. 
There wasn't a hiding place like It In the whole ghetto. She would 
sit there, alone. Just she. She would never get tired of sitting 
there. There Is so much compassion and understanding In the 
crevices of the mountain. She would have loved the mountain 
with all her heart. She would never forget the mountain for what 
it had done for her. And when the war ended, she would come 
out of her hideout and walk all the way to Kongressia. Free over 
free roads. She would take Moni by the hand and walk back with 
him to the mountain and show Mm. Let them all see the moun- 
tain that had given her shelter, that had hidden her. Hadn't 
bawled her out THkeP and hadn't run her off. Here, beside the 
mountain, they would all meet; Hany, pa, ma. She would take 
them all to Jew-Quarter 8. Better yet; she would stand in the 
soup-kitchen compound and wait there for them to appear. She'd 
see them in the distance and malce out right off which speck is 
who. She would ran to them. The sun would stream in between 
the high mountain and the low mountain; she would take them to 
the ''plot'* The bench Tedek made must still be standing there. 
She'd offer them some of the red radishes she had planted and 
tended with her own hands. Then she*d take them to the Center: 
Here is Hayim-IdTs "ViHa* . . . here's the bed she slept in . 
above, on top of the tile stove, under the ceding, are the written 
notebooks of her diary, and there,, between the cooling box and 

189 



the wall, under the window sill, is her last notebook. Now she'd 
also take out the notebooks in which she wrote everything that 
happened to her 

The last tolls of the gong broke in through the block windows, 
reminding of the morrow to follow the night The girls tossed and 
turned in their beds, and black blankets rose from the beds like 
phantoms. The knells of the gong rolled out echoes of familiar 
horror. Suddenly it seemed the closet doors were tearing open 
and the block filling with German voices. Bedlam. The Germans 
hang their clothes in the open closets. Two o*clock tomorrow. 

. * . everything that happened to her in the ghetto is written 
in her diary. And "two o'clock tomorrow'? No one will ever know 
about that. No one will ever know what happened in this camp. 
The Germans will "pin-gate" them all on the Execution Square. 
Not one will survive. 

. . . tonight shell go to the water! If she'd only bought the 
tablets. ... Of course Fella will survive. Fella is a **Lucky. w If 
she could write down whafs happening here, maybe Fella would 
then be able to pass it on. Yaga's promised to take her along to 
Dresden after the war. But the Germans will probably kill Fella 
too. No one will get out of here. Elsa will toss Fella into the van 

**Where did they bring you from?" 

The voice came from the next bed. The girl lay facing Daniella. 
She looked at her and repeated the question. "Where did they 
bring you from?** 

The question imbeds itself in Daniella's ears. "Where did they 
bring you from?" In the next bed a pair of eyes look to her, wait- 
ing for an answer. The same question she heard in the Labor 
Division on the straw. 

TProm Jew-Quarter 3," she replied. 

The girl in the next bed leaned up. 

*Tm from Jew-Quarter 1. Maybe you met my family there? 
Maybe you know how they're getting along? My name is Shafran. 
Tzippora Shafran. In the first roundup they separated me from 
my family. You don't know if any of them have been saved? We 
used to live at 12 Liberty Square/* 

190 



Her mind began to reel. The same talk. Each and every place 
the same thing, The same questions, the same answers, 

"No/* she said. **I didn't know any of your family. Fm not from 
there. I wound up there during the war, at my brother's. He also 
lived in Jew-Quarter I. His name is Harry Preleshnik^ 

The girl jumped off her bed, came nearer and studied her face 
closely. 

"Dam?" 

Dani . . . Who is this? DanieHa searches the face bent over 
her. Who is she? Where does this girl know her from? Where did 
they meet? A gray blank hangs over her memory, 

"Yes, at home I was Dani/ 9 

Tzippora Shafran let herself down on the edge of Daniela's 
bed. She sank her face into her hands, was silent 

Daniella took away a hand from the girl's face. **Who are you? 9 * 

Tzippora Shafran was three years older than she, beautiful and 
charming, of a well-known, cultured Jewish family in Metropoli. 
Here, in the camp, she was the only survivor of her transport 

Tzippora did not look up. "Harry always used to talk about 
you at home. He was proud of his golden-haired sister. How I 
always wanted to meet you. And now weVe met In the Doll 
House.* 

The light went out 

To sleep! . . . 

Outside, a full moon was silvering the electric wall of barbed 
wire. The rows of narrow white closets at the bedheads looked 
like tombstones. Tzippora sat on the edge of Daniella's bed, talk- 
ing and telling as though someone inside her wore seeking self- 
vindication before another. The sudden meeting with Harry 
PreleshniFs sister had taken tibte shrouds off a dead past She had 
been deported from the ghetto with her brother MaroeL Here 
she found out tibat Marcel was in one of the labor camps in the 
vicinity* She wanted to help him, was even ready to go to him 
and bring Mm bread but she was afraid. The girls come back 
from the men's camps with "reports.** Going to these camps is as 
good as going to dealt. Later she found out that Marcel wasn't 

191 



there any more. Maybe lie had been taken on one o the transports 
deep inside Germany. "If Marcel died o hunger then I'm to 
blame. I was a coward. I could have helped" 

. . . Harry! it bolted in Daniella's mind maybe Harry is also 
in one of these labor camps, crying for help! Her life suddenly 
took on a sacred, sublime meaning. Now shell be able to stand 
anything: Harry is waiting for her help . . . 

"How do you get into the labor camps? How do you get out 
of here?" Daniella asked impatiently. 

"The Germans guarding the camps around here have girls sent 
to them from Doll House, since they can't relax the guarding of 
the camps. The area is full of labor camps for Jews, and the girls 
usually get back with a 'report' Some don't get back at all. They 
generally send girls from the new transports. Watch out they 
don't send y " 

"111 ask to go! Harry is in a labor camp. Ill look for him! I saw 
in the Labor Division what hunger is like/' 

The block looked like a dark ghetto alley. From time to time 
a moan rose from a bed as out of a ghetto window. The moon 
embossed the window panes with silver. Gloom and unearthli- 
ness were outside the window pouring in longing and despair. 
Someone called from a bed, Tzippora! Sing something or well 
go crazy!" 

Almost every evening Tzippora Shafran sings, and all the girls 
join in. She is fondest of the lullabies her mother used to sing her 
as a child. Most of the songs are Hebrew, for Tzippora's mother 
had been a Hebrew teacher in her youth. The girls in the block, 
though Hebrew is strange to most of them, have already picked 
up all the songs Tzippora's mother used to sing as she rocked her 
to sleep. The childhood melody hovers among the beds like a 
mother's soul. Each girl's mother. And each mother opens her 
arms toward the bed of her daughter. 

There is no song in Tzippora tonight. This time it is no longer 
a melody of yearning alone. This time it is her mother's breath 
warm on her face, the way she felt it when she would lull her to 
sleep. 

Pleading voices carry from the beds: 

192 



"Tzippy! Sing something. Please, Tzippy." 
Tzippora cannot withstand the entreaties and starts trilling 
softly: 

"All the world's asltimber hush! 
Apple, pear each in its tree. 
Mama's sleeping, papa too, 
But there's no sleep for my heart and me . . .** 
The melody flows, unfurls, drapes a film of gossamer white 
over the narrow closets, over the walls; sways on a silvery horizon, 
like a bewitched vessel slicing through waves toward the silver 
gate of a full moon. 

Through the window peer the red lamps glowing over the 
barbed wire. Above the watchtower hangs the moon sphere, like 
the halo around the head of the tormented Jew of Nazareth in 
the images placed in the Polish windows to indicate that here 
lives a non-Jew. 

. . . just a slice of bread might save Harry . . . shell volun- 
teer to go to the labor camps . . . half a bread shell surely be 
able to get hold of ... DaoieUa's suffering was suddenly puri- 
fied and whitened, like molten gold in the refining blaze of the 
crucible. 

Outside, the night stands beneath the window, bearing Dani- 
ella*s fate inscribed and sealed. The night's bare feet are dusted 
with moon-silver. Out of the rosy blocks flows a grief -sodden 
melody of longing. And the night gathers the melody up in its 
bare arms, soars away with it over the block roofs, beyond the 
electric barbed wire* and caches it in the safety of its vaults. 



Chapter 15 



When Fella got to the Joy Division, she immediately saw there 
was bad business ahead for her. She, Fella, of the Jewish town 
of Radno, isn't going to be able to live in the same four walls with 
Elsa of Diisseldorf. One of them's got to give; either she, or 
Elsa. The place just isn't big enough for both of them. And since 
Fella knew: If she aims to live to settle things both with pure- 
blooded Elsa of Diisseldorf and with the Judenrat gang, she'll 
have to keep her horns in and her dander down, she immediately 
upon getting here set about planning how to keep out of Elsa's 
way, to avoid any run-ins with her. For never so much as now did 
Fella crave so to live for the day of liberation of revenge. 

That being the case, she first has to get out from under Elsa's 
thumb. So long as she's got Elsa over her, if s bound to end up in 
a mess: Fella isn't letting Elsa squash her like a worm. She just 
won't be able to hold herself back. Shell fly off the handle and 
paste into the ^Frankenstein" of Diisseldorf and really bitch it 
up not only for herself but for all the Joy Division girls dear 
down through the last transport. The Germans will take it out 
on them as only they know how. Oh no, she's not taking that on 
her conscience. So she'd better hurry up and figure something out 
while she's still got her wits about her, before she's turned into 
a dummy flesh machine like the rest of the Doll House girls. 

And if a way out then only with old Beelzebub himself and 
not with any of his junior stooges. 

The next day, before the beginning of Enjoyment, as the girls 
sat trembling on their beds waiting for Duty to start, Fella looked 
through the window at the German soldiers coming over the 

194 



bridge toward the square. She sized them up very carefully, as 
though this time it were she who was doing the picMag out of a 
victim someone who would be right for her scheme, Suddenly 
she noticed Yaga ? the Camp Commander, walking arm-in-arm 
with one of the guests a German officer. Looks to be a buddy of 
hers. And right then and there Fella decided: It's this high and 
mighty swine that's going to help her out 

When the Germans approached the block, Fela quickly hid in 
the closet by her bed and watched through the chink in the closet 
door. When she saw her marked guest enter the block, she 
stepped out of the closet and made, aH hips, straight for Mm. 

Fella didn't have to waste words. Her proud, curvaceous body, 
her exquisite legs, her sparkling rows of smiling teeth, her fiery 
black eyes all these spoke for her in a plain language of their 
own. 

The German seized her by the hand, and did not let her pass. 
Fella flashed him a glance, her shapely mouth pouting with in- 
lured innocence. 

"Such carryings on for a gentleman?** 

The German stood there wide-eyed. For a moment he forgot 
he was in the DoE House. He had never heard such words here, 
had never been addressed here this way. Instinctively he blurted, 
"Verzefhen Sfe-* 

. . . nice going! Fella thought Not at all bad to hear in this 
DoH House a German officer speak up to a Jewish field-whore 
with TPray forgive me.** Fela linked her arm, grande dame-like, 
in his, and led him to her bed. They sat down, eyed each other a 
moment and burst into hearty laughter. 

They sat and chatted away pleasantly. After a short while., the 
German felt the likes of this had never yet happened to him hare. 
This freedom in Fella's manner, her ability to rouse in him the 
manly sense of honor and in a place like this, when all around 
him soldiers were wallowing like swine in mud all this opened 
up in him latent, forgotten feelings,, which elevated Trim above his 
surroundings. Needless to add, Fella's beauty, charm, and audac- 
ity were of no Mtfle help. And above all, her expert knowledge 
of aH the ways and byways leading into the male heart. 

195 



Fella now called into play all the tactics of female strategy. 
And it was not long before the German was completely in her 
power, like a snake under the spell of a charmer. He spoke up as 
though making a confession, "Yes, I came to the Doll House for 
what all the others come for. I intended to have myself a little 
time here. But I've found something loftier." 

. . . not bad! Fella considered. Not bad at all! And when she 
felt the barometer of her success was high enough, she decided 
it was time to lay her cards on the table. Have to play it quick. 
Before you know it time's up and the chance in a million is down 
the drain. So she said with her usual simplicity and frankness, 
**Now tell me, lover boy, you want my body manhandled like 
all the others, or do you think it's worth having all for yourself?" 

The German gaped as though jolted out of a dream. He felt 
himself cornered. Fella's question cut him down from his romantic 
flight back to reality. 

*Td completely forgotten," he stammered. 

"Guess you thought you were sitting with some chippy on 
Unter den Linden back in Berlin!" Fella drew tighter on her 
bowstring. 

**This camp is under Gestapo jurisdiction," the German thought 
aloud. "There is nothing to be done there. But what I could do 
is try to arrange for you to become kalef actress, so youll be free 
from Enjoyment Duty." 

Fella shook her head. 

"First of all, nothing in the world will get me to do any kalef ac- 
tressing under Elsa. Kalefactress, that means butchering the girls. 
And I'd sooner die myself than loll someone else. Second of all, 
camp law doesn't allow beautiful girls to be kalefactresses." And 
while explaining all this she got up, coquettishly projecting the 
curves of her body, and continued, "You don't really think, do 
you, that this body isn't cut out for anything better than kalef ac- 
tress in the Poll House?" 

The German chucHed. His eyes roved over the beckoning mold 
of her body, pausing at the bold arcs where smock overlapped 
bosom. He reached out and drew her down beside him. Fella was 

196 



wide awake. Fella knows how time runs out during such love 
talk. She continued to prod, "Well, whatll It be?" 

"I don't know what to do. Honestly/' the German answered 
anxiously. 

She lay back across the width of the bed. Her tall, graceful legs 
Fella's tried and true weapon stood bare up to her thighs. She 
felt his eyes on the undraped apples of her knees, sat up again. 
Looking him straight in the eye she said, "O.K., then, come and 
take what you came for, like all the others! Tomorrow somebody 
else'll be sitting in your place. Guess hell also say, In you I found 
something lo-o-ftier/ Excuse me if I was wrong about you!" 

The German was in a vise. It did not occur to him to think of 
the trap into which a Jewess had suddenly led him. He did not 
stop to think: Why is he letting himself become so involved here? 
Why doesn't he "take what he came for," like all the others, and 
be done with it just as Fella had artfully told him. And perhaps 
it is because she had said it to him so simply and ingenuously 
that he felt himself so obligated. 

A strange whim of Eros in the German Doll House. 

"I'm ready to help you, if you'll just tell me how," he said. 

Actually, that was all Fella was waiting to hear. She drew her- 
self up and spoke to him with all her heart: 

"I'm a whiz at housekeeping and cleaning rooms. I was working 
at it when I was still a Md. Maybe one of the Germans here in 
camp can use a maid." 

The German suddenly slapped himself on the brow, let out 
"Idiot!" and hurried from the block. 

Her eyes followed him from behind the curtain of the bloclc 
He was heading for the Camp Commander's quarters* Well, Md, 
Fella thought, youVe made it halfway. Now youVe only got to 
make it the other half. And though Fella was not accustomed 
to turning to God she had a long account with Him since her 
early childhood she now joined her hands as in prayer and her 
lips breathed, "Help me, God! If you think you can go along with 
me now, I promise 111 become a good girl after the war. Please 
help me get out of camp. IVe got to square it with those Judenrat 

197 



scum. Ill polish off tiaat Monyek with my own hands. I've got to 
do it! I've just got to! And Elsa . . . Just help me get out of here. 
But i you don't feel like giving me a hand, all I ask, dear God, 
please don't mess it up for me Please don't butt in. Ill pull it off 
myself. That's all I ask: Just don't mess me up my German!" 

Through the window she saw the Camp Commander coming 
out of her quarters arm-in-arm with the German. He is talking 
energetically to her, obviously trying to convince her. They are 
coming to the block. 

Yaga sized her up. The German's eyes smiled with satisfaction. 
Apparently, Fella met with Yaga's approval, for she told her to 
follow her immediately. 

God granted Fella's prayer* She was accepted as maid in the 
Camp Commander's quarters. 

When DanieHa later arrived at the Joy Division, Fella stood by 
her like a devoted sister. Fella never forgets for a moment that a 
great miracle has befallen her here. The Camp Commander is 
pleased with her. Fella knows how to win the heart of the German 
Beast And when Yaga has had a few drinks, she pours her heart 
out to Fella as to a close friend. Fella has already heard from 
Yaga the most intimate stories of her life: about her beau, the 
commander of nearby Camp Niederwalden, who is two-timing 
her; about her youth, which she spent in a whorehouse in Dres- 
den. In her drunkenness she often sympathizes with Fella for 
having been born a Jewess. If not, she wouldn't be a prisoner but 
take it from Yaga commander of a German concentration 
camp. She'd have seen to that Fella is her only true-blue friend 
in the whole wide world. 

Every morning Fella comes hurrying to Block 5 to help Daniella 
at her ^Bed-Building." An extra pair of hands on the other side 
of the bed is a real godsend. And DanieHa y s bed is always ready 
first, after which Fella and Daniella check to see that all the 
other ^ed-builds" are uniform. 

And Fella became the guardian angel of the girls of Block 5. 



198 



Chapter 16 



. . . something terrible is in the air this -morning. All Daniella's 
senses were keyed up. She sensed it as tangibly as the imminence 
of an Aktion is felt in the ghetto even though the Germans have 
not given the slightest indication of it She was lying on her bed, 
her ears pricked for the slightest rustle. There is something differ- 
ent about this morning suspicious, ominous. Something is going 
to happen. She could sense it like one sensing a lurking danger, 
though not seeing it face to face. 

In the block everyone was still asleep, yet she felt the gong 
should long since have rung. It frightened her, this holiday atmos- 
phere, their still being asleep. Why is the waking gong so late 
today? 

Since getting the notebook and pencil from Fella, she cannot 
sleep come morning. With the others still asleep, it's the best time 
to pull out the notebook and pencil from under the wood shavings 
in the bed and write. Write. 

This morning is different from all the others. The muffled 
sounds outside are suspicious, sinister. In the next bed Tzippora 
Shafran wrestles in her sleep. Her face goes through contortions, 
her neck writhes, she groans and snorts as though someone were 
strangling her in a dream. 

Since they first met, Tzippora has changed completely. The 
TLucMes" of the block buzz among themselves that Tzippora has 
gone out of her mind. She's not the first suet a thing has hap- 
pened to here. They're afraid the SlovaMan doctor will notice 

199 



and lock her up in the KB-isolation among the venereals. Lately 
Tzippora has been roaming about the camp lake an outsider; as 
if the Doll House regulations no longer applied to her. The luck 
which had been with her this far now suddenly deserted her. 
All at once she got two "reports," on two consecutive days. And 
ever since, she's been going about everything indifferently, care- 
lessly. She doesn't even sing any more. Her mouth is clamped. All 
she lets out once in a while is "I killed Marcel," and she again 
clamps her mouth. 

. . . something is cpming off outside. Elsa's voice carries from 
somewhere. Kalef actresses sprint past the Hock. There's definitely 
something up. She felt the danger stalking her from an ambush 
somewhere. 

The girls are still fast asleep, as if no power on earth could 
wake them. But no sooner will the first gong sound than they will 
aU spring out of bed as one: Bed-Building! That's the way it is 
every morning. Suppose the war ended suddenly, the Germans 
fled by night, there was no more waking gong would the girls 
go on lying this way forever? 

The bustle outside mounts. What are they doing there? Fella 
had told her confidentially that they might be shifting the camp 
nearer to the front. Fella knows. You can rely on her. Yaga must 
have let something slip. No! This time she's not waiting to be 
transferred again. She'll put an end to it here. She's already been 
in almost all the Jew-camps in the area. To talk to the prisoners 
is impossible. Even to see them is out of the question. The Ger- 
mans live outside the barbed wire and there's no chance of getting 
inside to the prisoners. She'll never find Harry. Was all her tor- 
ture 

The block gate tore open. First to come in was Elsa, the braided 
knout in one hand and a white slip of paper in the other. Kalef ac- 
tresses searched among the numbers on the bedposts. They went 
about their work swiftly, without a sound, like demons. They 
swept from bed to bed and were approaching hers. With both 
hands she clutched the notebook and pencil under her back. She 
knew they were coming for her now. It's her they're after. No 
question about it now. She had f oresensed it. But before it had 

200 



frightened her as a general danger, threatening everyone. Now it 
was concentrated, poised like a spear right at her. Only at her. 
She's the victim this time. This time the eyes will all be looking 
through the barbed wire-at her. Under her back her hands 
pressed on the notebook and pencil. No time to hide them. The 
kalefactresses look at her bed number. In a lash, waves of ques- 
tions and answers billowed and broke in her mind: Where'd she 
get the notebook? Fella. They 11 Ml her anyway, but she s not 
mentioning Fella's name. The kalefactresses are entering the 
passage beside her bed. They're near her. She's ready. Queer, how 
calm she is. Shell never give Fella away. She is calm. Her eyes 
close. Death. That's how it feels . . . 

The kalefactresses tear the blanket off Tzippora, drag her by 
the hair. Tzippora does not utter a sound, lets them do as they 
please with her. Elsa stands, hands folded across her chest, look- 
ing directly at her glazed eyes. Tzippora is silent, and Elsa is 
silent Both look at each other, one at the eyes of the other, mute. 
But they appear to be conversing in an esoteric language of 
terror. 

Elsa goes and Tzippora goes in her tracks. No one ordered 
her to follow Elsa. She goes. Behind her the kalefactresses. The 
procession leaves the block. 

Daniella lies motionless. The wall opposite bends forward to- 
gether with the narrow closets along it Any moment and the/11 
topple over. The foreposts of tibe beds opposite together with the 
white numbers on them trundle quickly after each other, like ad- 
vertisement flash cards in a show window, whose source is never 
exhausted and whose end has no limit. 

Some of the girls jump out of their beds, flit back and forth 
past Tzippora's bed. Everything is happening as under water. 
She hadn't heard Tzippora scream. She doesn't remember hear- 
ing a sound out of 'her. The whole thing happened as in a vacuum. 
They've taken her out of the block, but tiie vacuum remained 
after them, filling *out the whole block Girls scurry about, turn 
to each other, appear to be talking, but she hears nothing. She 
goes on lying there, hands dutching the notebook and pencil 
beneath her back. They've led Tzippora from the block and the 

501 



first gong hasn't sounded yet. Something terrible is going to liap- 
pen this morning. Tzippora didn't scream. Everything happened 
with such dazzling speed, such terrifying silence. 

All look at Tzippora's vacant bed; 

Elsa has been in the block! . . . 

When did it all happen? . . . 

Who saw it? . . . 

What did Elsa say? . . . 

What's going to happen this morning? . . . 

Terrified eyes blink, stare: Maybe they've taken her to the 
KB! Maybe the Slovaldan doctor got wind of Tzippora's state . . . 

Girls scamper by, look with horror at Tzippora's vacant bed. 
Now she won't be able to hide the notebook. Why did they take 
Tzippora? It was for her they came! What if they found the note- 
book on her? And what if they come back againl She doesn't want 
to go on living anyway. Why was she so afraid then? 

She pulled her hands out from behind her back empty. She 
didn't feel them, just as she didn't feel the rest of her body. 

The boom of the first gong shook the block walls. 

II 

Ten stools stood lined up on the empty Execution Square. Their 
quadrangular tops gaped empty at the sky. Waiting. The fore- 
legs of the stools were glaringly angular in their starkness. 

Opposite, across the Execution Square, the prisoners of the 
Labor Division now clustered into a huge mass of gaping eyes. 
The kalefactresses' bludgeons rose and fell on the skulls in the 
rear ranks. Eyes were agapenot in fear of the Execution Square, 
but in fear of the kalef actresses' bludgeons: See, they're watching! 
They're looking! Ten stools right in the middle of the Execution 
Square, and their tops are empty and facing the sky! Won't the 
kalef actresses see for themselves: They're looking right at the 
stools! They don't take their eyes off the stools! If the kalefao 
tresses please, they can even count the chairs: one . . . two . . . 
three, . . . Won't the kalefactresses see how they're looking there 

202 



and counting, and please not beat them over the head with the 
clubs! 

The van rolled in through the gate, and turned with its back 
to the Execution Square. The driver's head leaned out the win- 
dow. With one hand he manipulated the steering wheel, backing 
the van to the right spot, to facilitate the loading. The driver 
hopped down out of the cab, looked the van over with the pro- 
fessional air of an expert driver pulling up exactly at the loading 
point to spare the porters extra bother. The dark back opening 
of the van was now directly in line with the row of stools. The 
driver shoved his SS cap off his brow back on his head, took the 
cigarette that was perched on his ear, lit it, leaned back against 
the fender, crossing one leg over the other, inhaled a lungful of 
cigarette smoke and looked indifferently toward the row of empty 
stools as he let out a deep, sleep-seeking yawn. 

"During Purgation youll see how stuffed they are . . T The 
host of bulging eyes on the other side of the Execution Square 
now merged into a single pair of eyes. "My name is Renya. Renya 
Zeidner . . .* The scathing hatred of all the eyes now converged 
into one pair of eyes. "Our bread! . . . Our margarine! . . . Ifs 
our lives they re fattening themselves on? Renya Zeidner's eyes 
don't stop glaring at her with hate and loathing. Daniella's played 
her false. Renya had believed her, trusted her right from the start 
But Daniella let her down. She double-crossed her. She left her 
for the Doll House, where they gorge themselves on the soups 
and marmalade of the Labor Division. Now, with the trap about 
to spring, she feels lonely and forsaken. But now no one's going 
to feel sorry for her. Let her suffer! The time will come for each 
and every one in Doll Housel TheyTl all get theirs on the stoolsl 
And we, the Mussulmanesses of the Labor Division, will always 
look through the barbed wire and watch them **purgate** the fat 
bodies which had stuffed themselves on our bread, on our mar- 
rowl 

Daniella could not stand to look at the other side any more. 
She turned her head. 

On this side stood girls dad in dean blue pin-striped camp 

203 



smocks; on the other side a nondescript clump whose tatters 
fused into one long rotting rag hung out on the wire barbs. A 
blurred clump, colorless and featureless, limbs and faces indis- 
tinguishable from each other. The Doll House girls looked across 
to the other side, the way relatives look over the rim of an im- 
mense mass grave at the exhumed skeletons. Any particle of this 
blurred decay may be your sister. 

Daniella could not stand to look at the other side an) more 

She looked away 

And saw them: 

Marching. Faces to the Execution Square. Marching nearer and 
nearer. 

At the head marches Elsa. Behind her nude girls goosestep- 
ping in single file. 

The sky was dreary, naked. It lay all drawn into the Execution 
Square., as though outside here there were no sky. To the right of 
each girl marched a kalefactress with a solemn, festive bearing, 
like a bridesmaid escorting a bride to the canopy. Elsa's slashed 
cheek looked from the distance as though half a mask had slipped 
from her face. The flesh between the crude stitchings now flushed 
blood red, appearing like a wound sawed into the flesh. The other 
half -face was taut, festive, solemn. The boot tops sparkled their 
Sabbath best on her feet, and near her right boot dangled the 
tail of her braided knout 

First in line was Tzivia of Chebin. She looked as though it were 
all still a great enigma to her. It was obvious she had not learned 
anything, hadn't become any the wiser here, in the Doll House, 
and her innocence hadn't been diminished one bit. As though she 
were not being led now, naked, from Elsa's chamber, but were 
stepping thus directly from the Daughters of Jacob night school 
in Chebin. Her petite, cameo body radiated chasteness and purity 
not touched. Her stubborn, infantile innocence shielded her as 
a tough shell around the kernel of a nut. There was no alternative 
but to crush the shell into its sealed pith. 

Round about, along the wire strands, rows of eyes were strung 
like beads around the neck of the Execution Square. 

By the stools stood Elsa, arms folded across her chest silent; 

204 



from the watchtowers the machine-gun muzzles looked silently 
down; the roofs of the rosy blocks also looked on silently. All 
must watch the purgation of the sinners of Doll House and be 
silent. 

Tzippora stands at her stool. Her face doesn't show any change, 
No change shows in the face of any of them. They stand at the 
stools, stony, silent, as if unaware of what is about to happen to 
them. They the lode-point of all this silencedo not dare ruffle 
the awesome still-ness prevailing here for the occasion of their 
death. 

From somewhere across the sky comes pitching down the last 
knell of the gong. 

. . . someone else will lie in Tzippora's bed tonight. Probably 
one of the Blossom Platoon. She, Daniella, standing outside the 
Execution Square, is now much more terrified than those stand- 
ing at the stools. Every one around her here is more terrified titan 
those at the stools. Doesn't Tzippora see death enveloping her 
naked body as they see it from here, on the outside? Doesn't 
Tzippora feel anything any more? 

The Germans arrived at the Square. They strode augustly in, 
fully conscious of their self-importance, bringing death in their 
company. They halted some distance from the stools. Death 
stepped out of their midst and continued to the stools. The Ger- 
mans followed his steps with their eyes. 

Now the kalefactresses went to work. They began strapping 
the girls to the stools hands to the forelegs, feet to the rear legs. 
Elsa signaled with her knout down across the back of a kalefao 
tress for Purgation to begin. The bludgeons rose in unison and 
in one cadence cut into the naked bodies. 

The stillness exploded like a paper bag: Shrieked the barbed 
wires and shrieked the eyes strung out on them; shrieked the 
high heavens and shrieked the block rooftops. Fear wept in the 
Execution Square and death, too, wept 

That" s that 

The Germans leave the Square like sated guests leaving a ban- 
quet hall. Death tailed after them. 

The girls were tossed into the van. The driver slammed the 

205 



tail board shut The stools now looked emptier than before. The 
shrieks which had erupted from them soared off, vanished to- 
gether with the lives o the girls, leaving the stools in the center 
of the Square drained as bottles on a table after a sumptuous 
feast. 

The motor started up and the van took off, leaving behind a 
singeing smell. Up the road, it turned into the Labor Division to 
pick up, in passing, the girls whom Hentschel the Moon is now 
sending into the blue to help build a highway. 



Chapter 1 7 



The line extended through the whole half of the partitioned 
block. The girls stood in single file, waiting to be examined. All 
the Doll House girls have to pass Health Parade once a week, each 
block on its scheduled day, in numerical order. 

Today it's Block 5. 

The KB block is partitioned in two. In one section, which is 
sealed off, they put the girls who contract venereal disease during 
Enjoyment Duty, From there the girls are sent to the hospital. But 
no one sent there has ever yet come back. 

The KB block is on the outskirts of the camp, beyond the latrine 
and beyond the rosy blocks. Opposite arches the bridge, patrolled 
by an SS sentry armed with a machine gun. Actually, the block is 
intended to serve as hospital for the camp girls hence its name, 
KB.* But in this camp no one has ever yet taken sick except, of 
course, the infected. When the SlovaKan doctor does discover a 
sick girl, she is immediately locked up with the infected in the iso- 
lated half of the KB, and together with the infected is sent to the 
hospital like them, never to return. 

Today it's Block 5. 

The girls stand in single file, naked. Near the window, at a small 
white table, sits the SlovaMan doctor, before her a sheet of paper 
to enter the numbers of the infected. The doctor's eye is glued to 
the black microscope tube. The examinee stands before the table,. 

* KB: Krankeii Ban, i.e., hospital. 

207 



surrounded by a semicircle of KB kalefactresses. Along the wall 
stretches a mute line of naked girls. Their eyes all watch. 

The examinee before the table looks at the glass slide fixed be- 
neath the lens of the black microscope. There, on the slide, is 
smeared her life. There, on the slide, her soul quivers like a fish 
on the hook. Will the smear of her own, her life on the slide now 
give her away? Will the moisture of her own belly now hand her 
over to death? Any second and the doctor's head, bent over the 
black instrument, will straighten up. Will she motion for the next 
girl to step up for examination, or will she flash a glance at the 
number branded on her breast and immediately bend with the 
pencil over the white sheet beside the microscope? 

Outside, by the second fence ranging along the barbed wire, 
squat some girls of the Blossom Platoon tending the flowers. They 
chatter loudly, resonantly, carefreely. Their jabber carries through 
the open window like the insistent buzzing of spring-heralding 
flies, like winged greetings from rustic dawns and rolling mead- 
ows. The voices flutter over the heads of the naked girls; around 
the black instrument under the grim, bent-over &-la-gargon head 
of the doctor. The droning prattle flits about in the empty space 
separating the waiting girls from the white table, skips over the 
stiff shoulders of the kalefactresses, whose faces like masks reveal 
no thoughts, skims down the opaque partition, and lights upon 
the knob of the door which closes behind the infected and opens 
to them again when the black van comes for them. 

Daniella looks out the window. The girls of the Blossom Platoon 
have red kerchiefs on their heads. They squat over the flower 
beds, trimming the blooms growing above or out of line. The beds 
must grow straight, even, and perfectly rectangular. The flower 
bed must look like a stream of red poured into a rectangular tin 
pan. 

Daniella looks out the window. The red-kerchiefed heads of the 
Flower Attendants suddenly seem like deviant flowers. They just 
beg pruning: They disrupt the rectangular symmetry of the bed. 

. . . the Blossom Platoon girls will probably be the last surviv- 
ors here. Maybe theyll even be around at liberation. Elsa picked 
them for the job. When they got here they had diamond rings 

208 



hidden in their mouths, and that's how they bought themselves 
off. The gold chain and the locket are hidden in the bed, under 
the wood shavings. "Get rid of that shit! . . ? She really squeezed 
through that one. Whatll happen to the Blossom Platoon girls 
when the camp is transferred? Now luck's on their side and they 
outlive the others. But whenever there's a vacancy in one of the 
rosy blocks, they take a Blossom Platoon girl anyway. 

No! She won't touch the locket! she came home from school 
Lunchtime. The dishes were already set on the table. Pa got up 
from his chair, came over to her seat, stood behind her: "Close 
your eyes and don't peek, Dani!" She felt his fingers on her neck. 
He slipped the locket on, a present for her thirteenth birthday. He 
kissed her on the nape, where the chain clasped, right where the 
cut of Elsa's knout hurt most "All right, Dani," he said. "Now 
open your eyes!" 

She opened her eyes. 

The line moves up to the table, The examined girls ran from 
the block barefooted, camp smocks in their hands, gratified, silent. 
The Flower Attendants move gradually away from the win- 
dow. The echo of their chatter now tapers in like the waning buzz 
of a departing fly. The examinee suddenly got a resounding slap in 
the face from the doctor: she didn't double over properly while 
she was being examined. She wanted to fool the doctor, to keep the 
swab from penetrating deep enough, so the moisture of her belly 
shouldn't give her away. The slap smarts on all the faces. At the 
distance it hurts much more, for the fear of the slap is more pain- 
ful than the slap itself. The bowl of tinted water almost toppled 
over. The doctor is riled. And when the SlovaMan doctor is riled, 
the fear intensifies in the lined-up girls. Those yet to be examined 
look daggers at the girl who had dared resort to such a trick to 
save her Me and thereby annoyed the doctor. At least if she were 
last in line it wouldn't concern them. 

. . . Fella taught her how to handle Enjoyment Duty, and how 
to avoid infection. First of all, she must rush out to the German. 
She herself must present him with her body then it will never 
occur to him to "report," even if she does later disappoint him. 
She can never compare to Fella. Fella is of a different mettle. 

509 



Fella has what it takes. Sturdy, tough, afraid of nothing. Not like 
her. She's a weakling. She can't help it. She's just made that way. 
Even Fella's story about the German officer is still beyond her. 
She'd never have dreamed it was possible even to dare speak that 
way to a German. None of the girls would have had the guts. If 
she didn't know what "Enjoyment" is like, she might be able to 
believe Fella's story. No! She could never have dared. She doesn't 
even dare imagine such a thing. Fella sure has what it takes. 

The SS sentry on the bridge leans over the wooden railing, 
tosses bits of bread to the two white swans gliding across the lake. 
The line moves closer to the table. The girls' naked arms are like 
long necks of white swans schoolboys and school- 

girls, now on their summer vacation, take frequent walks in the 
city park. Some lean over the wooden bridge on the lake and toss 
bits of bread to the snow-white swan gliding across the mirror of 
water . . . Reesha Meyerchik won first prize, but the principal 
said that her description of the swan was better than Reesha's 
composition about the Baltic Sea. To My Gifted DaniellaFrom 
Jour Brother Harry" It was the bronze plaque that saved her life 
in Yablova market. "Always write only beautiful things in this 
diary," Hairy had said. Guess he's in some camp deep inside Ger- 
many. 

The kalef actresses put a new girl at the table. The two gliding 
swans are framed in the KB window, float in a pair across the 
gloss of lake. Behind them the bridge . . . the bridge! the same 
bridge! . . - she is on an unknown lake shore. The swan twins. 
A brace of swans -float toward her. Harry stands wrapped in 
white, gaping with glazed eyes. She's being chased. The swans 
spread white wings. She runs toward them> 

Two kalefactresses seize her by the arms: The girl ahead of her 
at the table is almost done; Daniella must stand by. The doctor 
peers into the microscope. The &-la-gargon hair on her bent head 
is grayish-black, like cinders. Her bare nape is reddish, clipped 
man style. The nape flesh exudes fear, as though everybody in 
the world didn't have napes. The black microscope tube is round, 
like the black SS cap of the chief physician in the Research Block. 

The girl tip at the table looks intently at the slide lying under 

210 



the lens of the instrument: Is her body smear about to turn her 
over to death? . . . 

The girl's eyes blink. Stare and blink. 

The head straightens up from the instrument A flick of the 
finger the girl is gone. Nothing now stands between Daniella and 
the aJa-gar?on head. She's looking her over. Did she recognize 
her? Oh, God! The doctor's mouth is like the mouth of a fish. Its 
corners arch all the way down. Why is she staring like that? She 
must have recognized her! Any second and shell order her to the 
other side of the partition. Maybe the infected do live on in the 
hospital? The color of the tinted water in the bowl blends with all 
the objects scattered about on the table. From everything and 
everywhere the fish mouth stares back at her. There's no escaping 
it. What schemes is the fish mouth clamped around now? Wiry is 
she staring at her like that? What does she see on her body? 

The upper arc of the doctor's mouth slowly rises. A smile. 

"Such a tan of a body! Just like an SA man's uniform! What 
eyes! What a lush figure! Step up, whore, and let me look you 
over!" 

. . . she didn't recognize her! Just don't let her remember. 
Please, God! 

The doctor's hands pass the swab across the slide, dip the swab 
into the tinted water in the bowl and again daub it on the slide, 
not taking her eyes off Daniella's body. Oh God, please don't let 
her remember! She's liable to take it out on her now for the kick 
in the belly. "Such a blossom you send to the quam/P" Harry al- 
ways called her "my lovely blossom." Fella warned her to watch 
out not to get clapped up. Whafs on that strip of glass? The &-la- 
gargon head peers at it with one eye through the black tube, 
Daniella can't see anything there. An empty strip of glass, but she 
feels that the doctor is now peering into her belly, though she's 
standing away and her belly is closed To watch out . . Watch 
out how? Fella can do it. Fella can do anything. What is there, on 
the other side of the partition? Will Fella remember to take the 
notebook and locket from under the wood shavings? Fella could 
turn them over to her parents after the war. The doctor's nape is 
clipped like a man's. The kalef actresses now hold the arms of the 



girl behind her. Once the head lifts from the microscope, she'll be 
stood here in her place. The same bridge! Where have the swans 
disappeared? The lake is empty. The head straightens up. The 
eyes pierce her flesh. Just like a fish mouth. "A body tan just like 
the uniform of an SA man . . /' Only don t let her recognize her! 
Please God! . . . 

The doctor flicks her finger. 

"Beat it!" 

. . . she's well! free! She felt that deep inside her someone is 
very very happy. 

II 

Daniella was hardly out of the KB when she ran into Fella wait- 
ing for her near the block, Daniella was taken aback by Fella's 
grave expression. It isn't like Fella to hang around idle in the mid- 
dle of a work day. Oh no, Fella hasn't lost her Function! 

"Are you off from work now, Fella?" she asked hesitantly, 

"Have to get right back to work. Come, walk me to the camp 
gate." 

Daniella let out a sigh of relief: So it isn't that! The fright of 
the examination must have mixed her all up. 

After fhe session in the KB, the camp suddenly looked different 
Freer. The mile-long camp road now seemed endless. After the 
flat, opaque wall opposite the eyes in the block, the sky above the 
parade ground suddenly looked like a sky: tall, unbounded. The 
walls of the barbed wire now seemed low and insignificant against 
the skyline. From Block 8 girls rushed out to the lake, carrying 
their eating utensils to scrub and rinse for Utensil Parade. Light 
now poured all over the parade ground. Beside Block 7 girls were 
shaking out their blankets. Two girls to a blanket, one on this side, 
one on the other, holding the blanket by the corners. The muffled 
snaps of the blankets recalled: balconies on which bedding was 
shaken out; backyards, windows; homesteads abustle with house- 
wifely diligence. A summer-morning idyl. 

The girls of Block 8 ran to the lake in bare feet The sun slivered 



between their running legs as if they were splashing through pud- 
dles of quicksilver. For a moment it all looked like a summer camp 
somewhere in a sun-endowed corner of creation. 

They're sending some girls to Niederwalden labor camp to- 
morrow/' Fella was saying. "If you want to know something, I 
wasn't going to tell you. But I fust found out Yaga's going too 
to her beau, the Camp Commander. If you're dead set on it, I'm 
game for swinging it with Yaga again to tear up the 'report* youll 
get there. Honey, you sure have got it bad." 

She leaned against Fella's side and took her arm. She walked 
like a patient being led by a healthy person. The smock was un- 
buttoned on her body, and her shoes hung by their laces from the 
other hand. She hadn't quite finished dressing from the examina- 
tion. She felt the camp earth under the bareness of her feet and 
her soul sucked in the air of this very earth. She said, "I'd never 
forgive you if you didn't tell me." 

"Forgive, crap! It's plain crazy, I say. If Yaga wasn't going I'd 
never let you put yourself up again. Even if I knew they were 
moving the camp tomorrow." 

By the lane to the Science Institute, the Flower Attendants were 
watering the outside flower beds from rosy sprinklers. Entry in- 
side the barbed wire ringing the Institute is prohibited to them. 
The Institute "nurses" who handle the Experiment-Units also tend 
the flowers growing inside. The Institute proper is not visible 
from the outside, the way the skull is not apparent under an 
elaborate hairdo. The Institute is tucked deep back in the lane, 
steeped in flowers and foliage. Only a little sign on the barbed 
wire gate at the head of the lane announces: INSTITUTE FOR HY- 
GIENE AND SCIENTIFIC BESEARCH. 

TU have to get hold of half a bread" Daniella said. "Ill be 
able to pay it back during the week from my bread ration." 

"I've found out that the Jew-camp in Niederwalden is in the 
same building as the German Quarters," Fella continued. **Maybe 
you can pick up some more dope from the Jew-Chief or 
any Functionary hanging around the camp during the day. Ill 
work on Yaga. Maybe shell go nuts and even want to help you. 

213 



Ill try to set the thing up right But remember, you're playing 
with death. You don't know how to handle the Germans. There's 
just no counting on you." 

*TVe nothing to lose/' DanieHa said softly. 

**Stop pampering yourself! You're not an only child here! If you 
watch your step in Enjoyment and steer clear of Elsa, we'll make 
it to Kongressia together yet. You'll see what a time we'll have 
after the war. The blood will run like water from the Judenrat 
heads." 

Daniella halted by the end of the road. Here the blocks end. 
Fella turned toward the inner camp gate. 

"Ill drop in before the last gong." Fella again turned her head 
in walking. 

And she was gone. 

Ill 

The place where she was standing was paved with square 
stones. She sat down on the pavement and began lacing her shoes. 
Only no thinking about tomorrow! she pleaded with herself. Just 
not to think about it. 

Ahead, the camp road cut black between the two rows of pink 
blocks. From here the camp looked altogether different new and 
strange. As though she were now seeing it for the first time. From 
this spot she had gotten her first view of the camp. Now she knows 
what goes on up there, in the blocks. Everything there is kneaded 
in with her life. She knows it all as she knows the smell of her own 
body, the nails of her fingers. She knows the earth there. The flow- 
ers. The windows. The block walls and everything happening 
between them. She knows the bridge arching over the lake, the iri- 
descence of the water and the shadow-black of the SS sentry pac- 
ing up and down the bridge. Still, from afar, it's all so strange and 
new. As if her senses had suddenly gone awry; as if she had sud- 
denly lost her bearings. Like one jolting to a stop on a fully lit 
square of his home town at night: He knows the place, he always 
passes it on the way home, yet he suddenly doesn't know what 
corner of the square he's standing on. 

214 



TMs is the pavement she sat on when she got here. How come 
she doesn't recognize the place? It's as vivid in her memory as 
when she first saw it. But it looks so different so strange and new. 
Here's the square on the right empty . . . it's always on the left! 
She always sees it from, up by the blocks. How come she doesn't 
recognize it any more? As though it weren't in its proper place. 
That time, when she first came into camp, it looked like a neat, 
fenced tennis court. It looks one way from here, altogether dif- 
ferent from up there. 

The dual sensations, of then and now, give the place a double 
appearance, each distinct from the other* She looks about and 
can't make out where she is. 

From the kitchen block they were lining up steaming soup cal- 
drons. Soon they'll be carrying the caldrons into tihe blocks. Noon. 
She got up. The stones in the square were neatly and punctilious- 
ly laid out. On the right, the road wound toward the Labor Di- 
vision. Hentschel the Moon is carrying on with the construction 
of the camp there. At the beginning, Hentschel must have super- 
vised the work here. Right here girls must have scraped their 
shovels clean, carried railroad tracks from place to place. How 
many thousands of girls did the black van haul away from here 
before this little tract was inlaid with stones? How many Mussul- 
manesses were burned alive before these rosy blocks were up? 
How much blood of schoolgirls has gone into the sprouting of one 
single crimson blossom? 

She walked up tihe path to the blocks. 

She was looking toward the Labor Division, "They're buttdin 
them a highway in heaven. Step right into the van, mein Lieb- 
chen y and give 'em a hand. Just dont -forget to mention that 
you graduated at Master-Builder Fritz HentscheTs" The Moon's 
little jokes, there. He must have spoofed the same way right here, 
when his Baustefle was here. Will anyone ever record how many 
girls had crawled into the van here to help btiild a highway in 
heaven? **Youre not an only child here! If you watch your step in 
Enjoyment, we'll ma"ke it to Kongressia yet after the war" Tomor- 
row she must volunteer for the Germans at Niederwalden. The 
whple thing now seemed so pointless and just too much for her* 

215 



All at once she was seized with longing for all those who had once 
been here and were no more, 

On the horizon, a white cloud tapered down into the red lines 
o the flower beds. "There's just no counting on you, Daniella. 
You dorit know how to handle the Germans." Where is she to get 
half a bread now? 

She went up the path to the blocks. 



216 



Chapter 18 



"Hey, Medic! Get over here!" 

Harry stepped from behind the block gate, where he had 
edged his head out to see. He came out like a Jew in the ghetto 
during an Akdon after the Germans have discovered the hole 
where he was hiding. 

"Load the shit up!" the SS man commanded. 

The van was parked at the door of the Carrion Shed. When 
Harry heard the rumble of the approaching van he couldn't re- 
strain himself and rushed from the sick bay to the block gate to 
peer, to see off for the last time the bones of Zanvil Lubliner, As 
though, if he neglected to do so, Zanvil might miss it there; or, 
doing so would make it easier for Zanvil where they are taking 
him. 

The SS driver spotted Harry's head peering from behind the 
block gate, called him over, lowered the tailboard of the van, is- 
sued his order, and made for the German Quarters, 

The van was covered with black tarpaulin. The interior was 
deep and dark. Up in front, opposite the opening, lay a heap of 
skeletons, naked bones. The heap was neatly stacked, not 
sprawled, but expertly pyramided like a pile of potatoes in the 
cellar of a pedantic farmer broad at the base and peaked at the 
top. Most of the van floor still looked stark bare. ITbis floor must 
still pick up much "shit" from many camps today. Therefore, the 
loading has to be intelligent, expert. 

The skeletons lay naked. A knotted mound of arms and legs. No 
telling whether they are women's or men's. Bones. Uncountable 

217 



bones. Even the heads look like longish bones. 

The corpses of his own Carrion Shed them he knows. Knows 
when they died and how they died. Only a day or so ago many of 
them had come to him to the sick bay. He remembers their voice, 
though now they are silent. He remembers how each one had 
cheeped to him only yesterday. He even remembers the bruises 
and festers on their bodies. And those who didn't come to the 
sick bay any more he also knows how they died. Even those who 
were toted back dead from the Baustelle he knows how they 
died, too; how they crumpled, shovel in Band, to the ground of 
the Baustelle and even the Kapo's blows couldn't get them up. 

The corpses of his own Carrion Shed them he knows. As he 
knows the air and smell of his camp. 

Unlike those, piled up in the dark there, deep inside the van. 
They give off a strange, alien air, as if they had brought with 
them the smell of their alien camps. They are near to you, very 
near, yet strange. You seem to be of the same breed, you look just 
like them, yet they are a revelation to you. Like fallen denizens of 
remote planets with whom youVe come together on alien soil. 

You look at them and ask yourself: How did they die, and how 
had they lived before that? What kinds of torment had they been 
through there? What does the camp they were brought from look 
like? And what did they themselves look like? What land of accent 
did they have and what language did they speak? 

Here, in the van parked on your own parade ground, they look 
like fantastic guests, like corpses of distinction. First, because 
they have been brought from the outside, from beyond the barbed 
wire, from a mysterious somewhere which you cannot plumb, 
though you know it exists, just as the inhabitants of one planet 
know of the existence of another planet, yet cannot visualize what 
if s like there. 

Death is everywhere the same. But the life up to death varies. 
On the mask of tie dead face we seek the traces of the lived life; 
it's not the death in the corpse's face that frightens us, but the life 
that had animated it. We seek that life, try to visualize it, want to 
see it though it frightens us in the absence. 

Odd. Even on the knotted, entangled bones of Mussulman 

218 



skeletons you seek the traces of their previous Mussulnianic life: 
WJaat did this life look like? In wliat sort of blocks did they 
breathe? What kind of sky did they have? What sort of Baustelle? 
What did their Jew-Chief look like? How many portions were cut 
there from one loaf 

"Load the shit up!" 

Suddenly all the corpses in the Carrion Shed became alike in 
his eyes. Before, he had wanted to see Zanvfl Lubliner off for the 
last time. Now he grabs them and drags them as they come: when 
the SS driver gets back, they all have to be loaded up on the van. 
Pini, Red Itche-Meyer's son, couldn't have been as heavy alive as 
he is now. How come they left the trousers on him? Short trousers, 
but they still look like something. Pinf s bare feet trail along the 
ground* Such long legs. Never showed on Pini that his legs are 
so long. Oh, the seat of his trousers is in shreds. No wonder they 
left them on him. 

"Students like Pini are the pride and glory of the Sages of Lub- 
lin Yeshiva," Rabbi Shapiro, its founder and dean, had said. And 
Pini really was a prodigy. 

Now his bare feet drag clumsily in the dust of the parade 
ground, as if he were stubbornly refusing to get on the van. When 
.Spitz, the Jew-Chief, was about to let his father have "twenty in 
the ass," Pini hurled himself on the flogging bench and cried and 
begged, "Dear Jew-Chief! Sweet Jew-Chief! Kill me instead of 
papal" Now you have all you can do to get him on the van. 

Strange thing about the camp. The weak often hold out longer 
than the sturdy. Fifty-year-old Itche-Meyer, this withered stalk, 
is still around. Young Pini died a Mussulman, while his tottering 
father still makes it out to the Baustelle every day. Where does 
such a man get his strength? He's always hut up within himself, 
as in a suit of armor silent. But his silence isn't the silence of a 
Mussulman. His eyes aren't calcifiedand the eyes are the main 
thing. Everything is mirrored in the eyes, from the first hint of 
Mussulmanishness to the oncoming end. THE EYES. The well- 
known Mussulman eyes. The X-ray of the Campling. First they 
.mirror the calcifying soul, only then the calcified body. Where* 
then, are Itche-Meyer's fiery eyes constantly gazing? 

219 



The day Pini died, Itche-Meyer refused to say Kaddish* for 
Mm. "Pini is alivel" lie said. "You don t say Kaddish for Prophet 
Elijah ** . . . Pini is alive! Pini has gone right to Heaven like a 
Seraph. Pini never even had a taste of sin/ 7 After the first gong 
that night, he stole off to the Carrion Shed and there sat up with 
Pini in the dark all night But in the morning, before the march 
to the Baustelle, Itche-Meyer got together a Minyan *** under 
Pini's bunk and recited Kaddish for his son. What happened to 
Red Itche-Meyer during the night in the Carrion Shed? Was it 
revealed to him that Pini's body hadn't been smelted and refined 
enough to make him worthy of going to Heaven as a flaming Ser- 
aph? Or did he, in the course of the night, discover a blemish in 
his own soul, that is: Who and what does he think he is that he 
should dare rule upon such mysteries? While he was reciting the 
Kaddish the gong tolled. All the others dashed out to roll call, but 
the ten stood quaking, one foot with Itche-Meyer and the other 
reaching desperately for the parade ground. They waited with 
taut, quivering breath to hear Itche-Meyer end the Kaddish so 
they could let out the final "Amen" and make for the parade 
ground. 

The van opening was too high. The sweat ran in rivulets off his 
face. He felt his strength draining from him. He barely managed 
to throw the upper half of Pinf s body on the tailboard. He pulled 
himself up onto the van and began dragging Pini inside. 

"Pini has gone to Heaven like a Seraph . . /* 

Behind Harry's back lay the stack of arms and legs of Mussul- 
man-skeletons. He dragged Pini to the bone heap. The van still 
has to collect much "shit" from many camps today. He placed Pini 
at the foot of the heap, in the world of human beings death is 
uniform while life varies. Just the opposite in camp one life and 
an assortment of deaths. Pini there, he looks altogether different 
than those on the stack. Not just him, all the bodies from the Car- 

* Kaddisli; Jewish prayer for the dead said by mourners. 

*** According to the Bible, the prophet Elijah did not die, but went up to 
Leaven in a fiery chariot. 

*** Minyan: quorum of ten adult male Jews traditionally required for 
the full prayer service. 

550 



rion Shed look completely different than these. And the others to 
be loaded here today will probably look still different Camp by 
camp will be stacked here, each as a separate race; like various 
specimens of different planets. Alive, they were all alike. The 
camps are all as identical to each other as drops in the same 
bloodstream. "Students like Pini are the pride and glory of Sages 
of Lublin Jeshiva . . ." Maybe there, in the stack, lies another, 
similar prodigy from Sages of Lublin. Why do they look so differ- 
ent, now? Why don t they give one another any signs of recogni- 
tion? Maybe they used to sit on the same bench at the Yeshiva, 
shoulder to shoulder. Why doesn't any of it show on them now? 
Maybe at a third camp they'll load on another school-brother of 
theirs. Then why don't they identify themselves to one another? 
Here, in the van, there are none of the barriers that had separated 
and segregated them from each other in the camps. Here they're 
together again. It may happen that here, within the stack, school- 
brother's arm bones will again join brother's, as in old times, in 
a New Month Feast roundelay at the Sages of Lublin. Then why 
do they ignore each other? Why don't they recognize one an- 
other any more? 

"Load! the shit up! . . .** 

. . . the SS driver will soon be out, and lie's standing around 
here making like a philosopher. He placed Pini at the base of the 
stack and let himself down from the van to go on with the load- 
ing. 

* * . what's this truck now pilling into camp? A new SS guard 
unit? This is the third time since he's here that the guard has been 
changed. And the replacements are always worse. That looks like 
the German blonde getting off. 

Looking into the darkness of the van from this far, Pint looks 
like a potato that has rolled off a potato pile; as though they had 
deliberately thrown him off themselves: tihey don't want any 
strangers mingling with them. They have a secret all their own, 
not meant for others to hear. Each camp has its private secret; the 
secret which closed them in like walls of a pot and cooked them 
together. What trace, then, could have remained of their previous 

221 



Hves? Everything was burned through and through. Now they 
have their special shared secret; they stem from a common pot. 
Funny thing: Young Pini is already lying in the van, and his fifty- 
year-old father he's still out at the Baustelle, shovel in hand. 
Sooner or later the Cat will mark him down in the book again. 
Itche-Meyer's ruddy scalp glitters like copper under the Baustelle 
sky. Queer color of skull. Eye-catching. 

He drags them all from the Carrion Shed. But he by-passes Zan- 
vil Lubliner, as if ignoring him. As if feeling that by throwing him 
into the van hell be killing Mm with his own hands. Toward the 
end, Zanvil had stopped coming to the sick bay. The last time, he 
showed up with a strange request: 

'Treleshnik, it's too bad, the helpings you give me every day. I 
haven't much more suffering to go anyway. Better to give them to 
some younger ones. Just one thing: When you get out of here, be 
so good as to go to my wife and children and tell them I was acci- 
dentally killed by a locomotive during work. I wouldn't like them 
to know I rotted away like this . . ." 

In Schwecher's tailor shop, Zanvil was the master tailor. He set 
the pace and his word went. He had strong, brawny arms, a sturdy 
body, and warm, tender eyes. All the grief of the ghetto was re- 
flected in those eyes. He could finish off the buttonholes for 175 
Luftwaffe jackets in half a work-shift. But Zanvil was always the 
last to finish. So long as a single tailor was still sweating at the 
buttonhole machine, Zanvil didn't get up from his work. Poldek, 
the shop supervisor, always checked how far Zanvil was along in 
his work: If Zanvil hasn't completed the quota, there's no use 
raising it Whom didn't Zanvil Lubliner help! And how many Jews 
did lie save from Poldek this way! Who else used to cheer up and 
encourage everyone at the shop? No sooner did Poldek step out 
than ZanviTs voice would ring through the shop: 

7ews! Sew them their shrouds! Well outlive them, may they 
fry in hell!" 

Now he lies on the ground of the Carrion Shed, looking like a 
puny, dead embryo. So tiny, so sluriveled Not a stitch worth steal- 
ing left on him. Toward the end, he had been going out to the 
Baustelle barefooted. If he'd given Zanvil his shoes, he might still 

222 



be alive. The first sign of the soul Mussulmanized is going about 
the camp barefooted. But tie Camp Commander would have a 
fit if he saw his "physician" going around in bare feet He the 
"physician" doesn't belong to himself. He is an item in the sick- 
bay inventory, an indispensable part of it Like the white-lac- 
quered crib; like an empty medicine bottle; like an empty box of 
pills which mustn't be thrown away. The "physician * doesn't be- 
long to himself. True, no one here belongs to himself, but it must 
be remembered that the sick bay is the Camp Commander s pet 
plaything. No doubt that Zanvil would still be alive if he'd had 
shoes on his feet. Many of them would still be alive if they were 
allowed to lie, even one single day, in the sick bay. What* s the use 
of the crib? What use are shoes to him as a "physician 3 * who does 
nothing but dawdle about the camp? "I wouldn't like my wife and 
children to know I rotted away like this!' Can this thing lying 
here on the ground once have been Zanvil Lubliner 

"How's it coming, Medic?" 

The SS driver came out of the German Quarters, face florid, 
eyes drunk, black SS cap perched back on his pate. He buckled 
the military belt on his black tunic as he ran his eyes over the 
opening into the van. 

"What slop!" he growled. "That' s no order. That's a shit pflel" 

The SS man climbed into the van. He didn't at all care for the 
arrangement inside. One after the other he snatched up the Car- 
rion Shed corpses and flung them onto the bone stack Those 
hurled didn't roll off. The stack didn't totter a bit Not at all like 
a potato pile. Pinf s trousers showed like a dark blotch on the bone 
stack. His trousers were still visible, but he himself was imme- 
diately sucked into the pile. He was no longer to be seen. 

From opposite the opening the stack looked as before, as if not 
a skeleton had been added to it, as though it hadn't sucked in 
every last Carrion Shed skeleton. They vanished into the pile as 
though they had never existed, only the blotch that was Pinf s 
trousers showing on the skeleton stack like an eccentric patch, re- 
fusing to be assimilated into the chalMness of the bones. The van 
again looked like a tidy, dean-swept, empty house. Much "shit** 
from many camps still has to be loaded hare today. 

22S 



The SS driver hopped down from the van, raised the tailboard, 
and slammed it shut. Job's done. 

"One more corpse in the Carrion Shed," Harry said. 

Fire showered from his eyes. He felt the hard earth of the pa- 
rade ground under his arms. He rolled over several times. He 
couldn't get up from the impact of the blow smashed into his face. 

"Pusbag!" the German snarled. "Stinking pusbag!" 

The SS driver went into the shed, grabbed the man by the foot 
and dragged him to the van. The punch jangled like heavy bells 
around his head, but he felt no pain. Zanvil Lubliner's head 
trailed on the ground behind the German's feet like the dangling 
head of a slaughtered fowl. <e l wouldnt like my wife and children 
to know I rotted away like this." The ear that took the blow was 
deafened, but it was with this ear that he now distinctly heard 
the pleading voice of Zanvil Lubliner. 

The German picked up Zanvil Lubliner like a dried rabbit skin. 
He hurled him deep into the van, slammed the tailboard shut, and 
hopped into the cab. The motor coughed, started up. The van 
turned toward the camp gate, went out to the road. The dust 
swirled among the barbed wires like white smoke of a fire. All 
around an emptiness flowed and spread. But in Harry's ears the 
ignited motor still spluttered: 

Pusbag. Pusbag. Pusbag . . . 

Harry struggled to get up from the ground. He felt his strength 
oozing from him like last drops from a drained glass. 

He barely dragged himself to the block gate. 

II 

It was dark in the block. He stepped heavily between the bunks 
toward the sick bay. Behind him, day peered in through the open 
block gate as into a dark, full van. The three-tiered hutches filled 
the block to the rafters. It looked like a tall stack of dead Mussul- 
men. A full van. The blow smarted on his face and he just couldn't 
make out which of his two ears was deafened. The block was full 
beyond measure and the fullness jammed into his ears. On the 
other side of the wooden kitchen partition the Germans were hav- 

224. 



ing a wild drinMng orgy. Their revelry earned through the wood- 
en partition. He was walking in the block as inside a traveling 
sealed van crammed with bones o dead Mussulmen. 

In the sick bay, on the table, the necks of the empty bottles 
stood in three straight rows, one beside the other, mute and im- 
passive. Their muteness amplified the dull roar in his ears. He 
could no longer bear the order, the compactness on the table. He 
could feel the compactness cramping his brain. The white sheet 
was spread on the white-lacquered crib taut, smooth, without 
the slightest wrinkle. Not a prisoner has ever lain on this bed. The 
whiteness of the sheet splashed against his eyes like a white 
puddle; a blood puddle not red but white. The puddle floated 
over the walls and around the corners. From the glass cabinet his 
bread ration looked out to him whole, untouched against a back- 
ground of tall white cartons and flat aluminum boxes, all in pre- 
cise formation by height He didn't feel any hunger. He returned 
the bread an indifferent look. It didn't cheer him up this time. He 
wouldn't care if someone stole it from him. He wouldn't miss it. 
This evening hell be getting another ration. Two portions of 
bread! He started up from the chair. The last thought stuck in his 
mind: two portions of Thread? He's never yet had two portions of 
bread here. Under the armpits of dead Mussulmen they often 
find two portions of bread ... A shudder ran through him. His 
body shook all over. TWO PORTIONS OF BREAD. All at once, 
he felt that the heart inside him has eyes. Enormous eyes. And 
huge tears are dropping from these eyes: He Tie is going to have 
TWO portions of bread . . . 

Through the glass of the medicine cabinet the black piece of 
bread was looking out at him. Tm sick! he thought The bread lay 
aloof, distant; his yet not his; stripped of the rapture which such 
a bread ration should arouse in a campling dead stuff. Just bread, 

Above all watch out not to "become spiritual Mussulmen. Hold 
tight. Dont resign yourselves. Dont give up. Then your bodies 
win hold out longer and you wont become physical Mussulmen. 
This is the way he sermonizes to the prisoners day in day out He, 
sitting all day in the shelter of the sick bay, doing nothing, not 
getting flogged; he, who gets a double helping of soup for him 

225 



it's easy to preach: Hold tight. Don't give up. But isn't lie now 
about to become a spiritual Mussulman? 

The sick-bay door stood open* 

His brain was reeling. He felt as if lie were drifting through 
waves of murk. His strength is leaving him and the shore moves 
further and further away. Hold tight! Dorit give up! Who's going 
to help him here? He's going under. The shoreline recedes, melts 
to a gray fog. Who's going to come to his help? Spiritual Mussul- 
man. Spiritual Mussulman. On the site of the bed there was now 
just a blob of white. The blob floated around the sick bay, swelled 
and burst, its white shreds hanging down from the dark corners, 
He couldn't bear it any more. He groped toward the door, fum- 
bled for the exit He felt himself drifting under the murky waves. 

From the distance, day peered in through the block gate as into 
the dark of a sealed van. "Such slop!" Here, in the narrow aisle 
between the triple-deck hutches, there's still enough room for 
plenty of Mussulmen. The SS driver would have crushed him into 
the ground if he'd noticed. All that space going to waste. So much 
"shit" from so many camps can still be loaded here. But it's not 
his fault. Right here Red Itche-Meyer stood this morning with ten 
prisoners around him, saying the first Kaddish for Pini. Why 
doesn't he miss Zanvil Lubliner at all? One after the other they're 
carting them away old acquaintances and new, friends of long 
ago and new friends. They never come back. Suddenly they drop 
out of sight, and you never see them again. Still, you just don't 
miss them. They're wiped away like the writing on a magic slate 
when the carbon sheet is pulled up. You don't see those whoVe 
gone, but those who are left. As though it is not the gone who 
have died, but the remaining. And you can't mourn the death 
of those who have gone while you're looking on at the death of 
those left, those still hanging around the camp. Why doesn't he 
feel ZanviTs absence? Zanvil won't be coming back from the Bau- 
stelle any more with grimy bare feet miming blood and pus. Hell 
never again come into the sick bay, and he, Harry, won't ever find 
him in his hutch any more. Zanvil, his teacher at Schwecher's 
tailor shop, who taught him how to fix the buttonhole machine 
when it stuck; Zanvil, who never got tired of showing him over 

226 



and over again how to feed the Luftwaffe tunic into the machine 
so that the needle shouldn't jump into his finger and the German 
supervisor see that he, Harry, isn't a craftsman but a f aker-Zanvil 
is no more. He won't even be able to repay him any more for all 
he had done for him. Why doesn't he miss him? As if Zanvil Lub~ 
liner isn't gone at all but is lying here in the block on the pile of 
Mussulmen. The block like a packed van rides out of camp. And 
Harry rides along. He and Zanvil are staying together. 

"Preleshmk, when you get out of here." 

Get out of here how? Get out where? What does this "out" look 
like? The block is riding like a sealed SS van. Everyone is being 
taken away. He too. Where? He's been thrown into the van on 
the stack of wooden hutches. Bones. Bones. Where are they 
being taken? How many more times will they be taken like this? 
Where's the van heading for now? Can this really be the last time 
they're being taken? At every roundup in the ghetto he would 
think: This is the last time! . . . When he was deported from 
the ghetto he was sure: This must be the last time! . . . When 
the "Lame Slavedealer" picked him out of the ranks at Camp 
Sakrau he knew that this must be the last time! Where's he being 
taken now? How many such "last times" are there? Where is the 
van taking the bones? At what kind of place will it pull in? Then 
where will they be taken from there, from that mysterious place? 
Always taken to a mysterious place, and always taken from that 
mysterious place to another mysterious place. Always taken. Al- 
ways tossed into big, dark vans. Always bones stacked on bones. 
Sometimes live bones, sometimes dead bones. If s all the same. 
They live afterwards just the way they lived before; and they're 
tossed into the van before just as they're tossed into it afterwards; 
and always, both in the before" and in the "afterwards,** the 
bones think the same thoughts. 

Here, right on this spot, the Minyan stood this morning. This 
morning like all the rest of the mornings was all bedlam. The 
blodkful of bones clacked against each other, rackety as a wagon- 
load of scrap iron. Who will say Kaddish for Itche-Meyer? If the 
Cat marks him down in the memo book today* will Pini hop off 
the bone heap to throw himself on the bench, or wffl the bench 

227 



wait, empty, for Itche-Meyer to come and lie down on it himself? 
The Cat won't make any more memos on Zanvil. And maybe? 
Maybe there, at the van's last stop, there is another such Cat, who 
will again make memos on Zanvil? No matter where they take you 
there's such a Cat No matter where, there are Germans. Bones 
and Germans. Heaven must also be full of Germans. Bones and 
Germans. 

Whenever ten men are needed for a Minyan, they run first for 
the medic. Medic, they figure, always has time. He won't turn 
them down though he doesn't go for all that himself. It was Zanvil 
who got it going. Probably won't be any more praying here. And 
Zanvil won't be getting up the Sabbath-morning Minyan any 
more. This morning, Itche-Meyer just couldn't get his mouth to 
let go the words of Kaddish: 

"Yisgadal veyiskadash . . .* Oh, Pini Pini * 

Everyone lit out for roU call. The gong was ringing. The "ten" 
were beside themselves, desperate to dash out to roll call. And 
Itche-Meyer still at it, **Yisgadal veyiskadash . . . Oh, Pini 
Pini-' 

The ten finally bolted out. He tailed after them, got into the 
ranks, marched out to the Baustelle all the while his lips mut- 
tering: **Yisgadal veyiskadash . . . Puri PM ** 

Why don't they take everyone away together? When Red Itche- 
Meyer gets back from the Baustelle, the Carrion Shed will already 
be empty. The Jew-Chief will probably put on the white smock 
and take over as medic. The Camp Commander won't have his 
sick bay without a "physician." Everyone will be swept away from 
here, except the bottles on the sick-bay table. How long since 
Zanvil Lubliner was still Zanvil LubHner? It was only two or three 
days ago that he stopped feeling hungry, gazed at the block like 
a "philosopher," lay down and waited to be carried out to the 
Carrion Shed. A Mussulman never closes his eyes. Once he starts 
gazing with them like a "philosopher" he never stops gazing that 
way* When does a Mussulman die? Spitz let Zanvil have it with an 
iron wire across the face to get him up and out for roll call. He 
didn't believe him that he was really dead. "Let the medic come 

* Opening words of Kaddish. 

228 



and settle if it's a stiff laying on the bunk or a fucMn' loafer/" 
Spitz will put on the white smock, stand arms akimbo -like Sieg- 
fried, the SS man, when he's about to pound the life out of a 
prisoner and feel himself ruler of the roost When does a Mussul- 
man die? Is it only when he's tossed into the van, or when he's 
still mooning around the camp, a "philosopher"? Or maybe the 
Mussulman doesn't die at all for the dead can't die. Maybe he 
himself is long since dead and is only roaming around here a Mus- 
sulman among Mussulmen. In the evening the block orderlies will 
be back from the Baustelle. They'll drag him out and throw him 
into the Carrion Shed. Spitz will eat up the bread ration in the 
medicine cabinet. Too bad about that piece of bread, Better archi- 
tect Weisblum should have it. Who'll tell him to get it there? If 
he tells the block orderlies while they're carrying him, theyll just 
keep the bread for themselves. He won't be much of a scare to 
them now: they're toting Mm to the Carrion Shed, The block or- 
derlies are a vicious crew. In all the camps the block orderlies are 
rotten, lowdown creatures, without heart or conscience. How they 
fawned on him and played up to him when he was medic. Archi- 
tect Weisblum will probably never become a Mussulman. Non- 
sense! That's what he thought about Zanvil Lubliner. Look where 
it left- him in the end. God, if only that racket in the head would 
let up a bit! Must be that all Mussulmen hear this sort of dull roar 
in the ears. That's why they don't hear when they're being spoken 
to. Just stare blankly, blankly . . . 

The kitchen door was open. Eyes of Mussulmen stare blank- 
ly ... The German blonde comes closer, reeling toward him. 
Her eyes hang on to his. Her gait like the SS driver's drunken. 
In the narrow aisle between the three-tier hutches her nude shoul- 
ders arch white, like a slope of the mound of Mussulmen in the 
van. The trousers! Where are Pinf s trousers? He stood staring 
blankly ahead. Just the way the SS driver came at him before. He 
didn't budge: Pusbag. Pusbag. Pusbag . . . 

He stood there, staring. All Mussulmen stand and stare this way, 
Don't run away. He's never seen a Mussulman run. The Mussul- 
man stands, stands, and stares blankly . . . 

She wrapped her arms around him. She was at his f eel, stretdb- 

229 



ing out nude arms to Mm. She was stroking the skirt of his white 
smock: 

"Oh, Holy One . . .* 

Over against his eyes the kitchen door stood open. He saw: a 
half -window. A normal window. A light-letting window. A win- 
dow of another world. A barless window the way windows used 
to be. A window set with panesfaces of daylight. A white-lac- 
quered sill. Loaves of bread on the sill, one on top of the other, 
small, oblong loaves whole. He'd already forgotten what a whole 
bread looks like. At camp you only see ration slices. 

"Oh, Holy One! Look at me/* she blubbered. 

It was as in a dream. He heard the voice as through thick walls, 
as with clogged ears, as though he were under water. Like one 
nailed to a cross he stood riveted to the air behind him. He 
couldn't move and didn't have the strength even to try. His will 
was clotted as his whole being was clotted. He didn't scare and 
he didn't draw back. His fear was calcified, sucked dry. A weird, 
novel fear. A fear sapped of the liquid venom, as though the warm 
torso of a serpent were wrapped around him, with two teats in- 
stead of fangs bared at him. 

It was as in a dream. A static, immobile dream filled with emp- 
tiness. Like a bayoneted rifle aimed upward, not at the heart. 

Siegfried the SS man appeared in the Mtchen doorway. His 
hulk blocked the half-window and the whole loaves of bread on 
the sill. Harry felt no fear, since everything was devoid of reality, 
as in a stupor. He wanted to wonder: Why doesn't he feel any 
fear? But he didn't wonder. It was good to feel this way. It was 
good to feel no fear. As though Siegfried no longer had the power 
to harm him. No one can harm him any more. He felt he had just 
crossed a boundary. There was a boundary, and he had crossed 
it Crossed but not far over. He is still able to look back to the 
side he came from, and he can see everything, everything, just as 
if he were still there. 

Siegfried stands without his black tunic, arms akimbo. Queer. 
In his white undershirt, Siegfried is more terrifying than in his 
black SS tunic. The German woman is kneeling at his feet He 
hears and doestft hear. They're talking to each othershe to Sieg- 

530 



fried and Siegfried to her. What's there to talk about him? What's 
there to talk about a prisoner who is about to be tossed on the 
van? If s him they're talking about. He hears. He sees. He stares, 
the way the three-tier hutches stare, the way the skeleton skulls 
in the van stare. 

"Please take him along there/* the German woman pleads 
drunkenly. "Ill do anything you want, Siegfried." 

On Siegfried's belt buckle an eagle spreads its wings above a 
swastika. Just like the Gestapo seal on the labor card at Schwech- 
er's shop. The arms of the swastika terrify him more than the 
clenched fists on Siegfried's hips. A cold shiver runs over him, 
The arms of the swastika . . . 

"Let's go, Medic!" 

Siegfried pulls him. The triple-deck hutches move backward. 
He walks, but he feels that he is standing. The German woman 
pushes him from behind and whimpers drunkenly. Zanvil Lub- 
line/s head is trailing behind the SS driver like the dangling 
head of a slaughtered fowl, but he clearly sees that it isn't ZanviTs 
head but his own. The arms of the swastika. The first time he saw 
them was the morning the Germans came into Metropoli. They 
herded all the Jews into the workrooms of the Gutstein Brothers 
plant. They called them to the table, one at a time. The arms of 
the swastika sprawled across a red flag a giant crab weltering in 
blood. 

"What is Hitler?" the Germans asked. 

The blood gushed from the mangled body of the Jew. The 
arms of the swastika whirl on the red German flag like the blades 
of an enormous meat chopper. 

"What is Hitler? 9 

She caresses him: "Oh, Holy One!" and whimpers into Ms ear, 
drunk, half-naked. 

The air coagulated around him and he was clotted into it The 
bunks have vanished like the departed van, Where the van had 
stood there remained only gnawing, aching daylight. The kitchen 
doorway engulfs him like the light of the parade ground cleared 
of the van. The old Volksdeutsche cook stands facing the stove, 
sleeves rolled up her arms. Gusts of vapor spurt from the caldrons. 

231 



Today it's probably jacket potatoes. What's Spitz's flogging bench 
doing there? Siegfried drags him. Hitler gapes down wild-eyed 
from the kitchen wall: What's a Jew doing in the German kitchen? 
Kill! Kill! Kill! ... "Oh, Holy One!" the drunken German woman 
whimpers, opening the second kitchen door. The cook goes on 
standing over the steaming caldrons; doesn't even look up. As 
though nothing unusual were happening in the kitchen. Moment 
links with moment. A steel chain. No gap. An onrushing cataract 
Drop dissolves in drop. Infinity and split second melt into one. 
Beginning and end converge. It's a mute life-and-death puppet 
show; someone commands your moves; someone pulls you by the 
sleeve; speech. But the life around you is inarticulate, unreal. 

Air of the German pale. Here, here is their sphere. Here they 
live. This is the way to the German Quarters. A passageway. A 
stair vestibule. Clean, sharp, cool as the blade of a slaughter 
knife. 

He's long since forgotten that in the world, once, there were 
stairs, a wooden banister, knobs and doors behind which a person 
could lock himself in and have solitude. Lock himself in and 
still be free. He's long since forgotten, though in that world he 
himself had gone up and down such stairs, gone in and out the 
door whenever he felt like. Not led. Not dragged. There, every 
door had a marker. Even the door of his house had a marker. 
A bronze marker, with his name engraved on it oh yes, he had 
had a name. A name all his own. A personal, private name. Every- 
one was a somebody, then, and he was also somebody. Once it 
was "stair-vestibule." Just that-STAIR VESTIBULE. Now-ifs 
SS! The stairs SS-ish. As if the stairs were outfitted in a black 
SS tunic; the banister grillework, with a swastika in the center. 
Stairs not on which you walk, but which walk you, lead you like 
SS men. Where are the stairs taking you? Where does the van 
take when it leaves camp? At what kind of place will the van 
pull up? What land of place is he being taken to now? Again 
they're leading Mm. How many more times will he be led like 
this? What' s at the place he's being led to? 

The sensation of roundup in the ghetto came over him; the 

232 



feeling of Selektion during a German Aktion in the ghetto- 
How many times does a man die? 

Ill 

He was standing inside, by the door, as on the threshold be- 
tween dreaming nightmare and waking to madness. The German 
Quarters! He's inside. He could tangibly feel the thoughts churn- 
ing and somersaulting in Ins mind. The scene clawed into his 
brain and turned his mind topsy-turvy* Like someone standing 
on his head for the first time, seeing houses growing down from 
above, roofs reaching down into the sky. He can't be here but 
here he is. His eyes plainly see it Here they are, the wild drunken 
voices. Back there in the sick bay he heard them. Now he sees 
them. Sprawling mouths. He doesn't hear the shouts, he sees 
them. They're closing in on "him. He's standing amid them, sink- 
ing, sinking into them. He can no longer find himself. Can't feel 
himself. In the hanging yellow of the air only the whiteness of 
his smock reminds him that he's here in a real body. And as lie 
remembered, his subconscious felt in a spasm the full horror of 
it: the voices of the German Quarters. Oh ... oh ... he must 
hurry and rush up and hide in the dark in a hutch on the third 
tier. At Camp Sakrau the Germans got hold of the Jew-Chief and 
hauled him into their Quarters. When the prisoners came back 
from the Baustelle they found him lying in one of the blocks- 
dead, naked, his body a mess of queer blue spots. What's he doing 
here? How did he get here? 

It's: shrieking bedlam. It's: brain inside out It's: deaf blank- 
ness. No one pays attention to him here. The German woman is 
still kneeling at his feet The bedlam drowns out her bleating. 
On the windows the sun sprawls behind lowered yellow shades. 
Everything is soggy with thick yellow light Bottles empty, part 
empty, overturned and scattered rolling on the floor among 
wiggling naked bodies of men and women moaning and panting 
drunkenly. No one pays attention to MTT* here. No one notices him. 
No one wonders: What's the medic doing here in his white smock? 

233 



Everything swarms, wriggles, yet is frozen still as the heavy 
yellow light Everything is normal here. The wildest absurdity 
the soberest reality. Anything goes here, anything is possible, 
the way anything goes and is possible in insanity. Death and life 
dwell together here. Blood and wine are drunk from the same 
flasks. The Carrion Shed and the SS rooms are one. Borders erased. 
Boundaries lost. Belowthe prisoners* block; above the SS 
rooms. The prisoners* block like a wine cellar beneath the 
German Quarters. Each made for the other. Each fulfilling the 
other. Cellar and salon meet here like wine flasks on the tables of 
the rich. 

The Cat is holding a woman on his knees. He moans and wails 
into her. His gaping mouth is like a dark toothless cavern. His 
eyes squint as in pain. His black whisker ends tailing down the 
sides of his mouth dilate the blackness of his cave mouth. He 
kneads and pinches the woman's naked flesh with his fingers, let- 
ting out odd mewls.%^ 

The Cat . . . 

The Cat is off duty from the Baustelle today. Today his memo 
book won't be operating. The flogging bench stands idle in the 
kitchen. What's the bench doing in the kitchen? The Cat wants 
to sink his gaping mouth into the woman's flesh, but he has no 
teeth. And with screwed-up eyes he looses heart-rending cater- 
wauls up into the thick yellow air. 

"Medic! Better do something about that bug up your ass." 
The Cat doesn't care for old prisoners. "Pini, away! Pini, awayr 
What's the bench doing in the kitchen? "Yisgadalveyiskadash . . . 
Oh y PiniPini" The nude bodies are heaped about on the floor 
like a tangled mass of Mussulmen in the darkness of the van. 
Funny: SS lying on the floor like Mussulmen! 

What's he doing here in the German Quarters? How did he get 
here? No one wonders about it As though his standing here were 
a normal, perfectly reasonable fact. Here everything is reasonable. 
Here there are no qualms, no doubts. Here it's chaos; a yellow 
hodge-podge of nudity and bottles on the floor. "Siegfried, please 
take him along." It's a bacdbanalia of sound which is ear-splitting 
stillness; weeping which is laughter. The young Jew-Chief at 

234 



Sakrau was thrown into the block dead, queer "blue spots on Ms 
body. What did they do to him? What will Siegfried do to him 
now? How did he get here? The four legs o the overturned table 
jut up into the yellow air. Bottles and nudity. He cant remember. 
He seeks but just cannot find himself. The German Quarters! 
What will happen to him here? The German woman is pouring 
it down her mouth from a full bottle. She's sprawled on the floor 
in front of him, struggling to get up, to kneel at his feet again. 
But she can't "Let's go, Medic" Siegfried then went into the next 
room. He'll probably be right out Hitler looks in through the 
open door from the wall of the next room. A brown cape on his 
shoulders. Thunderheads pile up behind him. The picture is fire- 
red and brown. As though he were soaring through a tempest of 
flame. The arms of the swastika on Hitler's armband grow huger, 
huger. The band is red. Everything turns red. A sea of flaming 
red. And in the center, the arms of the swastika twirl like the 
blades of a windmill. "What is Hitler?* Soon the Germans will 
summon him to the judgment table in the workrooms of the 
Gutstein Brothers plant. He is down on his knees together with 
all the Metropoli Jews. Any moment now theyTl call him out of 
the kneeling mass. TheyTl ask him, e What is Hitler?" 

Out of a corner emerges a nude woman. She moves like a sleep- 
walker. The window shades shut out the sun like a beast blocking 
off the light with its glossy yellow pelt Everything is drenched 
with yellow. What's that? whaf s that scratching between the 
woman's breasts? The letters tumble about before his eyes. He 
can in no way put them together. The digits beneatih them leap 
up among the letters and jumble up with them. The German 
woman is still trying to wrap her arms around his legs, snorting 
drunkenly. The upturned table legs twirl before his eyes like the 
arms of the swastika on a yellow armband. The blue eyes of the 
woman hook into his brain. How did these eyes get here? Where 
did they suddenly float up from? What are Daniella's blue eyes 
doing here? "The loveliest couple in the world, Pa and Ma! 9 
Dani's voice . . . The eyes scream . . . Her mouth gapes . . . 
If s Daniella's voice screaming to him. He hears. He clearly hears. 

THARRYH! HARRY!!!" 

235 



IV 

He was lying on the floor outside, by the stairs. When he 
opened his eyes the two black boots of the Camp Commander 
were standing beside his head. Stillness sprang upon him as if 
thousands of motors had suddenly stopped roaring in his ears. 
The sudden braMag of the din was more deafening than the din 
itself. He could feel the stillness stream into him. The shouts of 
the Germans now reached him from behind the closed doors more 
muffled than he used to hear them in the sick bay. The Camp 
Commander's face was grave, meditative: Should he finish him 
off? Should he crush him with his boot and have done with the 
shit? Or should he let him live and continue as physician? 

He was lying on the floor by the stairs and he felt that his life 
now lay on the floor beside him like a severed object. Any moment 
and the black boot will trample it. He couldn't move. He was 
unable to breathe, to disgorge from inside him either plea or 
anger, pain or vengeance. He lay as if bound to a sacrificial altar. 
He raised his eyelids, looked upward, saw as through a fine-spun 
veil: now everything is transparent, now it's all blurred. Now he 
sees, hears, understands and knows everything that happened to 
him, and now he knows nothing at all. Is his life still alive, or has 
it already been crushed? He's right here, and he isn't here. Here 
are the high black boot tops; the Camp Commander's face; the 
walls of the stair-vestibule; doors he sees them all. And now 
everything is again swamped with yellow chaos. Eyes blue eyes, 
wide open in scream: Harry! Harry! And again stillness. As if 
the roar of thousands of motors had suddenly stopped in his 
ears. Stillness . . . 

Beside him on the floor lies his life like an infant of his. Any 
moment now the black boot will crush it, and it won't show any 
more from under the boot sole. Any second now. The infant lies 
beside him . . . 

He's lying on the floor. The black sheen of the boots gleams by 
Ms head. He lifts his eyes, looks upward: the Camp Commanders 
eyes . . 

236 



The face above folded into a smile. The boots turned and 
walked to the door. The Commander opened the door, walked 
in, shut it. Stillness, He's lying on the floor. Opposite form lies Ms 
life, way off from him. 

Waves upon waves. The walls of the stair vestibule toss on a 
high sea. Yellow. Red. Waves toss him between open doors, and 
the swastika on Siegfried's belt bucHe looms up between the 
waves. 

"Take him back where you brought him fromP the Commander 
orders. 

Siegfried is dragging him over the stairs, but he doesn't feel 
himself being dragged. Pioi's bare feet trail across the parade 
ground, still stubbornly refusing to get up on the van. 

The cook, the old Volksdeutsche, is still standing at the stove. 
Sleeves rolled up, she goes on stirring in the caldrons and doesn't 
turn her head. As though it were a natural thing, his being 
dragged back along the kitchen floor now. Normal as the potatoes 
she is now boiling in the caldrons; as the small black breads lying 
there on the window sill, each of which she will cut up into twelve 
rations. Normalas everything around here is normal: the pris- 
oners* block on that side of the kitchen and the German Quarters 
on this; the sky showing through the window; Hitler's picture on 
the kitchen wall. 

Columns of steam erupt from the caldrons, and the old cook 
doesn't even turn her head. 

Two rows of triple-deck hutches join him, drag along with Mm 
through the darkness of the block. Where's he being dragged? 
Where will they halt? He suddenly felt a sharp pain ram into 
his ribs. The pain leaps up into Ms throat and plugs Ms breath. 

Siegfried has paid the medic back with a fist in the ribs and a 
boot in the belly for having had to carry Mm. He was boiling 
mad: Since when has Siegfried got to carry a living Jew? What a 
friggin* chore for the Camp Commander to hand him! 

He dumped Mm on the ground, spat disgustedly, and was gone. 

Pain crouched around Mm, looting him straight in the eyes, 
stalking him like a pack of trained SS hounds. With the least stir 

237 



of a limb the pain pounced upon him and drove sharp fangs 
deep, deep into him. He was lying on the ground and he couldn't, 
he didn't dare so much as raise his head. 

He was lying face down. All around, everything was dead, 
empty. The ground was close by his eyes unyielding, unpitying. 
He could see the ground, but couldn't flee into it It was shut be- 
neath him like the locked door of someone else's bunker during a 
German Aktion in the ghetto. He felt he was on the outside. 

The hutches towered vacant over him. When the prisoners get 
back from the Baustelle they'll find him lying on the ground of 
the block. The Jew-Chief at Sakrau lay nude, with queer spots 
all over his body. Is he also lying nude now, or is he still in his 
white smock? Spitz will order two block orderlies to carry him 
over to the Carrion Shed. "Easy now, Medic! Better do some- 
thing about that bug up your ass! 9 The ten Jews bolted out to 
roll call. Red Itche-Meyer weeping: "Yisgadal veyiskadash . . ? 
And Dam's voice screaming to him: "Harry!!! Harry!!!" Turmoil. 
He must be out of his mind! But he did see and hear! But where 
did Dani come here from? But he plainly saw Daniella's eyes! 
He's out of his mind! But he did hear her cry: "HarryF 9 The 
screams are still ringing in his ears. What happened to him next? 
Where is he now? The van pulled up at the Carrion Shed. He 
clearly remembers that. He was waiting for the van, waiting to 
see Zanvil Lubliner off. He remembers it exactly. He can still 
hear the rumble of the approaching van. No. He didn't dream it 
up. Then he was dragging the corpses. He climbed into the van. 
He lay down and sank in among the dead Mussulmen. He was 
riding. He clearly remembers feeling that the van was riding, and 
that he was riding in it. 

Where are they all? As soon as he gets out he must first go to 
Zanvil Lubliner's wife and children and tell them their father 
didn't rot away like a stinking Mussulman. That's a sacred vow! 
Pusbag. Pusbag. Pusbag. What happened to him next? Where 
did the van take him? Where did he come across Daniella's eyes? 

The Camp Commander was bending over him. He took him 
up in his arms and carried him into the sick bay, 

He was lying on the white sheet in the white-lacquered crib 

538 



no no! That's prohibited! Strictly prohibited! The Camp Com- 
mander's face smiled forgiveness at him. The Commander pulled 
out his cigarette case. A white TE16" cylinder tumbled down and 
rolled away from the black boots. The Commander lit himself a 
cigarette, and the black sheen of his boots was gone beyond the 
sick-bay door. 

On the table, the medicine bottles stood in three straight rows, 
like prisoners at roll call. From the small glass cabinet on the 
wall there stared at him whole, untouchedthe bread-ration. 
By the table, opposite each other, stood two chairs: one for the 
medic, one for the Mussulman. The chairs were empty. 

Suddenly, he felt an awful pain around his eyes. From every 
limb of his body, from his skin, from the roots of his hair, the pain 
converged upon his eyes and all started beseeching him: 

"A tear a tear please, just one . . ? 

He rolled off the white sheet The searing pain around the eyes 
grew more agonizing, more excruciating. A roaring blaze. The 
pupils of his eyes flared up like two seething volcanoes, and the 
pain erupted and streamed into his every bone. He dragged him- 
self to the table, let himself into the Mussulman seat Queer 
sounds started escaping from his throat The weird cheeping of 
an ailing bird. His arms reached out to the empty chair opposite. 

"A tear Please, only one just one . . /* 

He lifted his gnarled, calcified hands and pointed to his eye- 
lids: There . . . he . . . he feels something there, something he's 
never felt before. . . . He twittered and breathed his plea to the 
empty chair: 

**. . . tear . . . only . . . only one . . ? 

Hippocrates of Concentration Camp Universe! Brescribe this 
patient his cure! 



239 



Chapter 19 



Fella was pressing Daniella's shoulders to the latrine wall with 
all her might, as though she were grappling with someone out to 
harm her. 

She felt she had control of the body clamped between her 
hands, but not of the mad demon thrashing about and struggling 
inside this body. Daniella's head strained violently, unremittingly 
to break through the half-open latrine gate out to the night 
to death. 

No use wasting words. No use trying to convince. Something 
horrible is about to happen. She forces Daniella back against the 
wall, keeping between her and the gate. She keeps a tight grip 
on the body but this isn't Daniella. A fiend has gotten into her, 
and it's the fiend now fighting to break loose. It she can't check. 
It she is powerless to overcome. 

Beyond the bridge, above the treetops, a profile moon hurries 
across the sky as though on an important and urgent mission. 
The moon looks like a jester fool's cap on head, pointed beard on 
chin. Tatters of clouds, like gauzy white veils, clutter its way, but 
it cuts through them and hurries on yet remains at a standstill, 
over the Execution Square. 

They were by the half -open latrine-gate. To the right, opposite 
the KB, the round lake lay on the ground like a head flung into 
the Joy Division, the wooden bridge like a noose around its neck. 
Daniella's eyes blazed with uncanny light and her lips moved: 

"HARRYS STANDING IN A WHITE CLOUD . . ." 

The red bulbs above the electric barbed wire looked at the 
Joy Division like glowering eyes guarding the rosy blocks. Oppo- 

240 



site, the night dipped nude in the lake by the light of the red 
bulbs. The forward end of the bridge was a haze of crimson. 
Nearby, from the sealed end of the KB block a weird cooing rose 
as from a dovecote a kind of madman's lament. Mid-lake, where 
red verged on black, the brace of swans stood white, like two 
marble statues in reverie, gazing at the Joy Division. The KB was 
steeped in darkness. The mournful plaint rose from the block, as 
if the souls of the departed girls had come back to bewail in the 
dead of night those not yet gone, 

Daniella's eyes plowed toward the lake: The sentry booth on 
the bridge is set back in the dark, out of sight AH around red 
. . . crimson red . . . a maelstrom of Hack and red . . . Harry 
stands in a white smock as shrouded in cloud . . . "he 9 s looking at 
her . . . he's pinioned in the cloud . . . mid-lake, where red 
verges on black, the brace of swans whiten like twin statues 
against the dark of night, gaze at her . . . call her . . . 

She twisted and thrashed about in Fella's hands. They were 
standing by the half-open latrine gate. No use wasting words. The 
Daniella between her hands she can still handle, keep between 
herself and the wall. But that one blazing in Daniella's eyes 
that one can't be broken, can't be held against the wall. TheyTI 
all go balmy here. What' s the use. She's the one that sent her to 
Niederwalden. Who could have seen it coming? Tzippora Shaf- 
ran's end is all set for Daniella. They'll all go balmy here. Dani- 
ella won't escape the Execution Square, like Tzippora Shafran 
didn't escape it 

She let her hands drop from Daniella's shoulders. 

Daniella stopped writhing. She stood serene, still, looking di- 
rectly at Fella's face, as though she were only fust noticing her, 
Her hands were extended to Fella: in one hand-the notebook, 
in the other the locket Her eyes impaled Fella's. 

"Get this to my brother in Niederwalden." 

Fella angrily snatched the notebook and locket from the out- 
stretched hands and ran toward the back of the latrine. She 
wanted to dump the things into one of the latrine holes. Daniella's 
mushy request sounded silly, and exasperated her. She was used 
to taking care of her like,a mother and big sister. But as she ra0 

241 



to the latrine holes she couldn't shake Daniella's look from her 
eyes. This was a look she had never seen before new, piercing, 
overpowering. A person who looks like that is way above her. 
She suddenly felt she couldn't dare throw the things into the 
holes. But she was still furious. She had to let it off somehow. 
She wheeled around and flung the notebook and locket deep into 
the block. 

When she got back to the latrine gate it was too late. The 
spot where Daniella had been standing a moment ago was empty. 

From out the darkness Daniella's white-draped figure moved 
off. She was pacing straight for the lake, moving into the reddish 
light of the wide camp road. The night crouching on both sides 
of the barbed wire opened red, inflamed eyes and tensely fol- 
lowed the movements of the delicate form of the girl in the white 
linen nightgown coming directly into its waiting maw. 

Fella clung to the latrine doorpost She was too terrified to 
utter a sound. Her fear-bulging eyes strained toward the dwin- 
dling white silhouette, as though wishing to tear out after Dani- 
ella, seize her and force her back into the darkness. If only she 
could call out to her, warn her again! Daniella was now exposed 
to all the watchtowers posted along the whole length of the road. 
The slightest outcry and it's all over. It's all up anyway. There's 
no stopping it No way out any more. Any second now. 

From the darkness blanketing the back end of the bridge, the 
black figure of the SS sentry peeled out like a bared fang of the 
night He aimed his gun slowly, deliberately, as though still not 
believing his own eyes. He isn't sure yet of the windfall that has 
come his way, though he clearly sees his lucky number right there 
in front of him. He sees the "three-day furlough" drawing near. 
If s in the bag. It's already out of the bailiwick of the other watch- 
towers. But he's careful, careful. Stalks with bated breath, and 
waits. 

The white silhouette fades slowly up the sloping road to the 
lake. She doesn't run. She doesn't turn her head. She walks proud, 
erect. Facing her are the brace of swans like a twin sculpture 

The night answered the gunburst with wild> rollicking laughter. 
The watchtowers all along the road perked up and bent an ear. 

242 



The SS sentry on the bridge couldn't curb the billows of laughter 
rearing up in him and he sent them tumbling down to the last 
watchtower on the road: Let all Kameraden know that come 
morning, he gets three days 7 furlough. His "kilT is right here in- 
side his territory. Ho-o-o, did he pull that off shrewd and careful. 
He let his "game" get near the water. Didn't shoot a second be- 
fore. YouVe got to know how to time it right. And he knew, the 
bridge sentry did! 

Up at the head o the road a splotch whitens. With an out- 
stretched black tongue the night lapped up the spilled blood of 
the seventeen-year-old Doll. The twin swan statue suddenly came 
to life. The gunburst had frightened them out of their marble 
serenity, and with outspread wings they went gliding quickly 
away from the camp shore, as if bearing on their white wings the 
tortured life of Daniella Preleshnik. 

Fella stood glued to the latrine wall. 

From tower to tower the German voices enviously shrilled the 
news of the bonanza one of the Kameraden had just come into. 

From the nearby KB block the horrible cooing did not let up* 
The venereal girls were weeping in their isolation over the van 
coming for them at daybreak. The bridge sentry, intoxicated with 
joy, struck the pose of an opera singer on stage, and from the 
top of his lungs let the night air ring with the German soldier- 
song: 

THa - heilee - lu - la - la . . " 

Who can come up to him? Tomorrow he's going to his family: 
Maybe to mother, waiting at home. Maybe to sister, or to little 
only-daughter whom he so pines for as he stands here on the 
bridge. Maybe his little girl is as old as the Toll** in the white 
nightgown lying there on the road. Three days* furlough! Let* s 
see you match that! 

Fella couldn't bear to stand there any more. The dove-cooing 
from the depths of the KB block was driving her mad. She 
couldn't bear it any more. She went back into the latrine block. 

On the ground, at the other end of the block, lay the notebook 
and the locket She bent and picked them up. She felt as though 
DanieHa's life now rested on the palms of her hands. "Get this to 

243 



my brother in Niederwalden" She tucked the notebook into her 
camp smock, on her bosom. Her flesh quivered at the feel of the 
paper on her heart, 

On high, behind and through the cloud shreds, the crescent 
moon hurried on. Fella couldn't bear any more to look into the 
night, at the splotch whiting on the road. She paced up and down 
the row of latrine holes bisecting the block. Strange emotions, 
hitherto unknown to her, fermented in her heart 

With both hands she held the locket up to her eyes. Out of the 
photo Daniella gazed at her, dressed in her white sailor-collared 
school outfit, two thick white-ribboned braids tumbling down to 
her breast, her gaze serene, pure, innocent. Beside her, on a round 
table, sat Moni. The child looked at Fella with wide-eyed wonder- 
ment, the question seeming to hover on his lips: Why is Dani 
lying on the road? 

She hugged the two children to her lips. At that moment, all 
feeling of hatred seemed to evaporate from her. At that moment 
her hatred toward the Germans swept over all the bounds of her 
senses. So deep was this hate, she could no longer see it She 
wanted to hate, but she didn't know whom to hate. 

She couldn't get herself to hate the Judenrat they were so 
puny, so no-account as against the tidal waves of misery breaking 
around her. Nor could she hate the Germans so trivial, so in- 
significant as against the remorseless, bottomless grief. Her hate 
was too vast, too deep for her to know at whom to hurl it She 
couldn't even hate God, now. 

She sat down on one of the latrine holes. The grief rocked her 
to and fro. Her legs were stretched out before her. She saw them 
as through a veil of mist They recalled a long-ago world gone, 
forgotten. Now her legs seemed superfluous. Even the long-ago 
world superfluous and pointless. 

She got up. Half the latrine door was open. She went toward 
the door. Now she can even go outside. Let them shoot her if they 
like. She doesn't feel the least bit afraid. Now she can stand in 
full view of the watchtowers. Now she can look the SS men 
straight in the eye. She can indifferently toss them the three-day 

244 



furlough her life is still worth. Let them scramble like filthy 
beggars for 'the boon she is tossing them on the ground. 

Above the treecrests, beyond the bridge, the new day planted a 
foot Soon the black van will pull up at the KB, Daniella was 
lying, face down, one hand slung before her on the road. "Get 
this to my brother in Niederwalden." All at once, Fella felt a light 
ray pierce the darkness in her mind. For the first time she felt 
she had something for which she was ready to give her life. 
She abandoned herself completely to this feeling, as a blind man 
reaching out to a suddenly restored light She pressed the note- 
book under the camp smock to her heart. She hid back in the 
latrine so that no one should find her here at this hour, and waited 
for the first gong. 

The day strode toward the camp. Passing over the road, it 
stubbed its foot against a riddled body. It glimpsed down, and 
went on 



245 



HAVING COMPLETED this book, I cannot leave without mentioning 

DR. YOSEF and MRS. MALKA ASHERMAN, Tel Aviv 
They found me when I was floundering in a sea of ashes the 
ashes to which all my family and world were reduced in the cre- 
matorium of Auschwitz and reached out devoted arms to me as 
parents to their child, and spared nothing to make it possible for 
me to go on living in this world. 



1 32 879 



4